Medical Education’s Radical Next Step: Scrapping Lectures

February 10, 2017
Russell Schaffer

Top medical education news.

One New England medical school looks to cut lecture time for its doctors in training.

Vermont is leading the way with a revolutionary new approach to training doctors—sans lecture. Medical schools aim to teach their students about world epidemics. And President Trump’s travel ban on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries has many in the medical profession worried. Here’s the latest in pre-med news.

Vermont experiments with lecture-free medical education

Up in tiny, beautiful Vermont, medical education is taking a radical turn that may cause ripples across the United States. The University of Vermont College of Medicine recently announced that it is making a big change to how it teaches future doctors: There will be no more lectures. Instead, students will watch videos  before class and then participate in “active learning” afterwards. So far, the med school has cut lecture time in half.

“Sometimes, the best approach to something isn’t the most comfortable,” said Dr. William B. Jeffries, senior associate dean for medical education. “Students are comfortable with lectures because they provide them with a guide to material that’s on the test. Faculty are comfortable with lectures because they already did it last year.” Jeffries says students are reacting well to the changes and are succeeding academically. (The Boston Globe)

Think globally, study locally

Tomorrow’s doctors will be miracle workers in helping to solve the many health issues that plague the world. And today’s medical schools are training them for it by inspiring them to learn more about what goes on beyond our borders. “Before you ever want to make a change or discuss a change, you need to understand the problem or understand the current state of things,” says one third-year student.

Thomas Coates, a professor of global AIDS research at the University of California—Los Angeles who is charge of global health initiatives at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, adds, “The main benefit we see is that our students are going to become doctors of the world, and they need to know what’s going on in the entire world, not just the United States.”

Another benefit of global medical education: learning about health problems in the developing part of the world may help you relate to problem in poverty-stricken areas of the United States. (U.S. News & World Report)

Travel ban worries doctors

President Donald Trump’s decision to place a 120-day ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries has support among some Americans, but it’s also receiving tremendous pushback from others, including the medical education community. The concern is that the ban will exacerbate America’s ongoing doctor shortage. As you may know, thousands of foreign-born doctors come to the United States every year, including some from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

“While we understand the importance of a reliable system for vetting people from entering the United States, it is vitally important that this process not impact patient access to timely medical treatment or restrict physicians and international medical graduates (IMGs) who have been granted visas to train, practice in the United States,” said a letter from the American Medical Association, an organization that represents thousands of doctors across the U.S. (CNN)

Practice with a purpose

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Is medical school on your horizon? Take a free online MCAT practice exam to gauge your Test Day readiness.

Russell Schaffer

Russell Schaffer Russell Schaffer is Kaplan Test Prep's senior communications manager. Russell is responsible for helping lead our external media relations efforts, including speaking with reporters and bloggers on a regular basis about Kaplan's proprietary research and products. Russell also helps craft the surveys we regularly administer of students, advisers​,​ and admissions officers. The data collected helps guide the hundreds of thousands of students and parents Kaplan works with every year by giving them accurate and up-to-date information ​about​ the landscape. Russell is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, where he received his BA in political science and MA in communications.

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