Why medicine needs new schools to drive innovation and change

Let’s face it, medicine is slow to change – the profession has produced successful physicians for centuries using an education system based on grueling hours and unwavering dedication. Many established medical schools boast impressive Step 1 scores and match rates, so why should they modify what works?

Change is necessary because our society needs the next generation of physicians to be technologically savvy and driven toward innovation. With the increasing prevalence of portable electronic devices in everyday life and the explosion of social media, medicine needs to accept and embrace modernization so that we can begin to construct guidelines for the appropriate use of technology. For example, much like practicing medicine, there is a lot of unnecessary gray area surrounding how physicians should approach anonymous blog posts or tweets about patients.

New medical schools have the unique opportunity of working with a blank slate, making it easier to incorporate technology and discuss how we can successfully integrate it into medicine. Furthermore, a new school can test innovative curriculums that other established institutions shy away from. Hopefully, the success of these contemporary education methods can be a model of change for others to follow suit.

When I chose to be part of an inaugural medical school class instead of opting for a “safer” route, many people asked if I was concerned about how new it was. Although I could not truthfully say that I was free of worry, I knew that the opportunity to shape a new style of medical education was too great to pass up. Furthermore, success in medicine is primarily based on the individual, not the institution that grants the medical degree.

Have there been some hiccups since classes started? Of course. But, our voice means something to the administration. Amendments can be seen immediately (in fact, as quickly as the next day) and the enthusiasm within our class is electrifying. I often hear my friends at other medical schools complain that what students suggest often take years to implement, and by then, more unmet needs have accumulated. I believe that because many medical students do not see their recommendations implemented, they slowly begin to withdraw in other important matters (such as legislation) as they progress through training. While I realize that the real world does not operate like our small school and that transformation does not happen overnight, I think that by continually encouraging students to voice their opinion, we are nurturing a culture of innovation and the drive to change.

Amanda Xi is a medical student who blogs at And Thus, It Begins.

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