“The history of medical education reform amply demonstrates that curricular change has been incremental, reactive, and mostly around the margins. Changes that have occurred, such as earlier clinical experiences, more problem-based learning, and clinical skills testing, have not fundamentally altered learning environments and information-retention expectations imposed by medical school curriculum committees, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and the National Board of Medical Examiners testing program. Given the curricular needs addressed above, changes in 21st-century medical education must be radical, not incremental. The current learning environment, with its excessive information-retention demands, has proven to be toxic and in need of complete overhaul. The speed of technological innovation means that the skills of some faculty members are outdated compared to those of their students. In a recent visit to a medical school by one of the authors, when students were asked if they were ‘being taught in the manner in which they prefer to learn,’ no student said that this was the case.

Accordingly, we advocate new curricula that respond to the challenges of AI while being less detrimental to learners’ mental health. These curricula should emphasize 4 major features:

  1. Knowledge capture, not knowledge retention;
  2. Collaboration with and management of AI applications;
  3. A better understanding of probabilities and how to apply them meaningfully in clinical decision making with patients and families; and
  4. The cultivation of empathy and compassion.

Barriers to such curricular changes are substantial and include long-standing faculty practices and funding streams, university policies and procedures, and a history of incremental reform by regulatory and accreditation bodies. It is our opinion that significant reform cannot take place within the existing regulatory structure. Perhaps changing the accreditation and licensing framework should be foremost among our considerations in reimagining medical education for the 21st century.”

More on Reimagining Medical Education in the Age of AI by Steven A. Wartman, MD, PhD and C. Donald Combs, PhD via AMA Journal of Ethics: Illuminating the Art of Medicine

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