Stanford sets new policy for med students

Stanford Med discovers their students are occasionally sleeping, and comes up with a solution: CNN.com – Stanford sets new policy for med students –

…Stanford announced last month it would become the first U.S. university to require new medical students to pick “scholarly concentrations” — similar in spirit to undergraduate majors –…

apparently missing the point that medical school is a graduate program, with well -defined goals, and a fairly well-defined way of getting smart but untrained kids to become educated, trained doctors.

Attracting specialized, career-focused students is one reason Stanford University Medical Center overhauled its curriculum and required students to pick a concentration by the end of their first year. Officials say the policy puts Stanford at the forefront of medical education.

Sometimes, being at the forefront means the train hits you first. I read this to mean that they weren’t attracting enough pale, lab-rat masochists, but that’s just me.

…”Students in medical school turn into cookie cutters, all learning the same, huge amount of data, and by the end the idealists are gone,” said Dr. Julie Parsonnet, Stanford’s senior associate dean for medical education. “We’re saying, ‘We know you’re all different from each other and you have individual reasons for going to school.’ We want to foster that passion and still produce great doctors.”

How better to foster idealism than by tacking on 200 hours of “scholarly concentration”. Also, exactly what part of that huge amount of data will you be cutting out to add in a scholarly concentration? The part about my ankle, or my MI? A lot of idealism meets reality in med school; it’s a feature, not a bug.

…Stanford’s program came after an 18-month curriculum review, when officials discovered 70 percent of students were taking five or more years to get through the four-year program.

They had to do a study to find out their students weren’t graduating on time? That’s educational malpractice.

Most spent an extra year on independent projects.

Hmmm. Students figured out a way to make getting a job take another year. Surprise! Want another answer? Spend another year, get the PhD, then you have an accomplishment, not just an extra year of student loans.

…Stanford’s newest class of 87 students must devote at least 200 hours to a project in their concentration. Officials added three weeks to the fall quarter and asked professors to spend less time in the classroom each week and more time supervising students in interactions with patients.

200 hours over 3 weeks is only 67 hrs/wk, which is a cake walk for most medical students, but there’s no way it’s put together like that. It’s too easy that way.

…”Ultimately, I think it puts us in a better career position,” (an un-named by me student) said of the curriculum change.

Ummm, no. Were I a residency director I’d be unlikely to be super-impressed that you spent 200 hours in a scholarly concentration. Oh, it’ll give you something to chat about in interviews (you’ll bring it up, trust me), but the residency director needs residents who also see patients, as well as max out board scores, so you’re not going to do so well.

And Stanford now officially shouldn’t get to complain about the high student indebtedness, after requiring more specialization of med students. Aso, they have lost any pretense to lecture about the decline of generalists, as they encourage specialization from the outset.

Update: Idealists respond. I agree that Medicine is changing, and all the med school idealists in the world aren’t going to fix it. Finish school, join us, and then join the ?whither the AMA? debate (heh).