During my surgical training, I took care of a patient who could barely afford the dressing supplies I had prescribed for him. While caring for him, I realized that in the busy day-to-day pursuit of becoming a good doctor, I had telescoped in on the clinical details, neglecting my once-cherished ideal to embrace the social and economic aspects of health care.
Last fall the journal Academic Medicine reported that the vast majority of students felt they had received adequate clinical training during their four years of schooling. But fewer than half felt they had had adequate exposure to health care systems and practice, an area of study that extends to subjects such as medical economics, managed care, practice management and medical record keeping.
When the researchers compared the five-year results from two different medical schools, they found that students who had attended the school with more of these types of courses were significantly more satisfied with their education than students from the school with fewer. Moreover, regardless of how much of their school’s curriculum was devoted to these nonclinical topics, students remained equally satisfied with their clinical preparation.
In this week’s “Doctor and Patient” column, I interview these researchers who believe that it is possible to learn about the economic and social aspects of health care while immersed in clinical learning and that it is impossible to become a good clinician without doing so. Do you think learning about the economic and social aspects of health care is possible within the constraints of the current medical school curriculum? And is it important to becoming a good doctor? Please leave your comments below or on Tara Parker-Pope's "Well" blog.