Dear P&S Readers,
At a discussion of the curriculum task force in November, students and faculty enthusiastically debated the nuts and bolts of curricular change: small group learning vs. lecture hall teaching, best methods to evaluate student learning, and ways to change the perception that we are “teaching to the test.” One upperclass student was dismayed when younger students did not want to discuss anything that “wasn’t on the exams.” The nods of understanding from the faculty in the room revealed a major flaw of medical education today.
Our goal in developing a new curriculum for P&S will be to instill in students a lifelong interest in learning. The goal of medical school is not to teach someone all of today’s facts. Students obviously need to know enough to practice at a high level today, but they also must be prepared to continue to learn all the important things that come along tomorrow. When I was a cardiology fellow, most of what I was taught was wrong. How to treat heart failure and heart attacks: all wrong. Teaching people facts is not the only responsibility of the curriculum. Students should know what is current, but if we are doing our job, we are showing students that medicine is a profession with lifelong learning. Along with teaching skills and facts, we need to teach some healthy skepticism. If we teach students how to interpret and understand future developments, we have sent them on a much better course.
As I explain in more depth in this issue, much of what is good about P&S has created an extraordinarily loyal group of alumni. We must preserve our strengths while finding ways to alter the curriculum to recognize that the end of a student’s years at P&S is only the beginning of lifelong medical education.
With best wishes for 2007,
Lee Goldman, M.D., Dean