AMA sponsors physician education revamp

The grant aims to trigger a nationwide redesign in all medical education.

By — Posted March 13, 2006

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The American Medical Association awarded $305,000 total to 16 medical schools in February, money that will be used to set a research agenda for the redesign of physician education from medical school to residency and professional practice.

While some medical schools have revamped curriculums individually, there has not been a nationwide effort to rethink medical education since it was standardized in the United States during the early 1900s, educators said. There is little research to tell educators what works and what doesn't when it comes to training physicians, the AMA said.

To build momentum for research, the AMA gathered representatives from medical schools, residency training programs and continuing physician professional development programs earlier this year to assess curriculum in schools across the country and build momentum for action. During the one-year planning period, each school with funding from a Medical Education Research Consortium Planning Grant will put together an agenda to evaluate how physicians acquire and maintain the skills they need to deliver quality patient care.

"Each grant will work as an important tool to help continue lifelong learning in medical education," said Michael D. Maves, MD, MBA, AMA executive vice president and CEO. "This unique, multi-site research and evaluation consortium will provide the evidence-based guidance to help educators shape the future of medical education and ensure that our physicians continue to best meet the needs of their patients from the first days of medical school to the last days of clinical practice."

Eventually, educators hope to learn how to teach doctors to engage in the most cost-effective, evidence-based medicine. For example, a patient asks a doctor for a drug advertised on TV. Surveys show that a physician, pressured by time constraints and a desire to satisfy patients, tends to prescribe the requested drug. But when asked if this was the most effective drug, the physician responds that there were cheaper and more effective alternatives. An educational effort to change such behavior might focus on the physician's communication skills and tactics to manage such a patient encounter.

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