In a recent TedTalk given to health care professionals interested in medical education, Lawrence Sherman, Senior Vice President of Educational Strategy for Prova Education, argued that patients should be incorporated into doctors’ medical training from day one. He made his case with both statistics and humor; pointing out that the textbooks used while in school are often outdated by the time physicians start practicing, and showing images of doctors hovering confidently over empty hospital beds. Sherman noted the absurdity of the three years that typically pass between a doctor’s formal education and the time they start working with patients.
“Physicians know what to prescribe, yet most of the patients don’t get the results they expect,” he said. He pointed to the lack of focus on patient care as a prime reason for this. According to Sherman, “Doctors education doesn’t focus on what patient’s needs are beyond what to prescribe.”
As a hopeful example of a more patient-centric approach, he pointed to an innovative medical program at The Hofstra North Shore- LIJ School of Medicine at Hofstra University Center Long Island School where for the first 100 weeks, the students are taught to be EMTs and work with patients.
Assisting patients with valuable information
Counter to most training, Sherman suggested that doctors be trained to bring their medical books and resources into the office and walk patients through the text, providing information about and reasons for their treatment.
He also identified new approaches to continuing medical education and professional development as another opportunity to shift the paradigm: “Teach doctors to manage patients instead of the disease.” According to Sherman, doctors and specialists should be taught to work as a collaborative team rather than individual parts of patients’ treatments. “The biggest mistakes in practices are made in transitions between specialists,” says Sherman.
After comprehensively answering what’s missing in doctors’ training, Sherman left the audience with one question about his proposed solutions: “Is this revolutionary or evolutionary?”
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Photo by Glenn O