Medical school can be a daunting journey for many aspiring physicians. As I look back now at the beginning of my 4th year, this has certainly been the case for me. With an overwhelming amount of information to learn and retain, students often find themselves struggling to keep up with the pace of the curriculum. Although somewhat mitigated by USMLE Step 1 transitioning to pass/fail, students are also pressured to utilize countless expensive 3rd-party resources to adequately prepare for board examinations.
Fortunately, the current wave of machine-learning and natural language processing has brought us open-source tools that can make the process of learning medicine more efficient and effective. ChatGPT is a language model developed by OpenAI that uses machine learning algorithms to generate human-like responses to text-based inputs.
Let’s explore six ways in which ChatGPT can be a valuable resource for medical students, from reviewing and summarizing medical literature to providing personalized feedback on areas of strength and weakness.
I can’t wait to use this tool to kick my 4th year into overdrive, and I hope these ideas will get you thinking about how you can utilize ChatGPT to revolutionize the way you learn and practice medicine.
1. Reviewing and summarizing medical literature. As a medical student, you are expected to read and comprehend an enormous amount of medical literature during your studies, especially to shine on the wards during the 3rd to 4th year. However, with ChatGPT, you can summarize large volumes of text in seconds. ChatGPT can quickly identify the key points and concepts in the literature, allowing you to impress your attendings and focus on the most important information.
2. Generating study materials. Preparing for the countless exams in medical school can be daunting, but ChatGPT can help. ChatGPT provides an efficient way to review and solidify your knowledge of medical topics by generating personalized study materials such as flashcards, quizzes, and practice questions. These materials can augment premade flashcard decks and question banks through customization to your learning style, making studying more effective and engaging.
3. Answering medical questions. Medical concepts can be complex, and students often have many questions. With ChatGPT, you can ask medical questions and get quick and accurate answers. ChatGPT can explain complex concepts in simple terms, helping you to better understand the material. This tool can be especially helpful when you need an immediate answer to a question, or when you are studying outside of your comfort zone or area of expertise. ChatGPT even has (kind of) passed the three USMLE Step exams (check out this paper in PLOS Digital Health), consistently performing around the 60 percent passing threshold, representing a huge leap forward in this technology.
4. Exploring medical case studies. Analyzing and discussing medical case studies in small groups can be difficult but is a core modality of modern medical education. ChatGPT can help you identify symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment options in each case by inputting the relevant information. With ChatGPT, you can better understand medical concepts and improve your critical thinking skills.
5. Practicing clinical decision making. As a medical student, practicing clinical decision-making is crucial to your success. ChatGPT can simulate patient encounters and present different scenarios, allowing you to practice making diagnoses and treatment plans. With ChatGPT, you can hone your clinical decision-making skills and feel more confident when facing real-world scenarios.
6. Improving communication skills. Communicating complex medical concepts to patients or health care professionals can be challenging. By practicing with ChatGPT, you can learn to effectively communicate medical concepts in a clear and concise manner. With ChatGPT, you can improve your communication skills and become a more effective health care provider.
These ideas are just the beginning. I hope this gets you thinking about how you can use ChatGPT in medical school. I think it can and will be an incredibly valuable tool for medical students. With its ability to summarize medical literature, answer complex questions, explore case studies, simulate patient encounters, improve communication skills, and provide personalized feedback, ChatGPT can help you navigate the complexities of medical school and beyond during your practice.
I think it’s important to note a few disclaimers here.
Keep in mind that ChatGPT is a machine and may not always provide accurate information. Always double-check information and consult reliable sources to ensure the information you receive is correct.
While ChatGPT can help you explore medical case studies, never include identifying patient health information in your inputs.
ChatGPT should never replace the guidance and mentorship of experienced health care professionals. As a medical student, you should seek out opportunities to learn from practicing physicians and other health care providers to gain valuable experience and knowledge.
ChatGPT can be a great asset in your medical education, but using it responsibly and in conjunction with other learning resources is important.
What ways do you think ChatGPT could be helpful to the medical student? Any other potential pitfalls I missed here? Looking forward to exploring these ideas more in-depth and hearing from others.
Drew Bergman is a medical student.