AMA: A significant redesign of undergraduate medical education

ama_logoA guest column by the American Medical Association, exclusive to

To close the gaps between how medical students are educated and how health care is delivered now and in the future, the American Medical Association (AMA) has awarded $11 million to 11 U.S. medical schools to fund their bold proposals that support a significant redesign of undergraduate medical education. This is just one part of the ambitious three-part strategy the AMA is pursuing to improve the health of the nation.

Medical students continue to receive the majority of their training in hospital settings, but the majority of patients are cared for in an out-patient setting by physician-led health care teams. Today’s medical schools typically provide minimal instruction about the business of medicine and the workings of health care systems, but future physicians must know how health care is financed and how health systems work so they are prepared to function effectively in rapidly changing settings to continue to provide the best possible care for patients.

The proposals encompass many educational innovations, including models for competency-based student progression, total student immersion within the health care system from the first day of medical school and the increased use of health IT and virtual patients. Many of the proposals also emphasize team-based care, patient safety, quality improvement and intensive training in primary care. Here are short descriptions of each proposal.

Project funding has been awarded to the following 11 U.S. medical schools:

  • Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Mayo Medical School
  • NYU School of Medicine
  • Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine
  • Penn State College of Medicine
  • The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University
  • The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • University of California, Davis School of Medicine
  • University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
  • University of Michigan Medical School
  • Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

The AMA will provide $1 million to each school over five years to fund the educational innovations envisioned by each institution. A critical component of the AMA’s initiative will be to establish a learning consortium with the selected schools to rapidly disseminate best practices to other medical and health profession schools across the country.

Of the 141 eligible medical schools, 119 – more than 80 percent – submitted letters of intent outlining their proposals earlier this year. This tremendous response was a clear sign that medical schools are eager to implement the transformative changes needed to respond to the evolving medical environment, enhance innovations in health care and prepare tomorrow’s physicians to thrive. Just this month, a national advisory panel worked with the AMA to select the final 11 schools.

We look forward to working with medical schools over the next five years and beyond to identify and widely disseminate the best models for transformative educational change to ensure that today’s medical students are prepared to care for patients in the health care environment of tomorrow.

Jeremy Lazarus is president, American Medical Association.

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