Home school/med school

May 14, 2007 at 3:10 pm (Uncategorized)

One of the most popular changes to medical education is the video taping of classes. The idea is that students can re-watch videos later for review or, in the event they have to miss class, they can watch the videos to stay up to speed with their classmates. Administrators will warn students by saying, “These videos are not a substitution for going to class. They are there for a supplement.” At my university, many students try the home school method of med school. They stay home and watch lectures, only coming in for physicianship training and PBL. Their methods seem to catch on with others.

Just think, you can have class when you want, where you want. If you miss something during a live lecture, you’ll have to raise your hand and hope that the professor will repeat whatever he said. With the videos, you just press rewind and keep on. Further, several software programs such as 2xAV can speed up the videos, meaning that a 50-minute lecture now takes half and hour to watch.

At my school, several students routinely take vacations after every exam and then use the videos to play catch-up during the week before the next test. The administration has tried to do away with this kind of behavior by threatening to remove the videos or institute download delays. Their threats have been empty. Just this past semester, several classes featured as few as 15 students in regular attendance.

I’ve begun wondering what would happen if for-profit universities caught-on to the video phenomenon. In particular, I wonder what would happen if the University of Phoenix started its own home school/med school. I could see it now: I’ll get an email saying, “Need a medical degree now!?” Next, I’ll click on the link to see ACCREDITED stamped all over a website touting an MD for $50,000 a year—a good price for working professionals. By interacting with my classmates via online forums, I can participate in anatomy by ordering my very own cadaver.

The Department of Education might be a little annoyed. The New York Times may even hold an investigation. The end result will be the same. I can earn my medical degree in my spare time by reading Robbins and watching the video lectures.

Some of my readers may be laughing at this part. The truth is that many medical schools already do follow a similar plan. Ok, so I didn’t get any emails from American universities, but many students are using the home school/med school method. I know quite a few people with jobs, families, or other obligations that keep them from coming to class. Over the course of the first two years they would show up when necessary, watch the videos during their spare time, and then beat the class average on all of the exams.

I know that the idea of your doctor getting through medical school in his pajamas may sound scary, but trust us, we know what we’re doing—we’re professionals.

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3 Comments

  1. Mike Berta said,

    Congrats on the 3rd year. You bring up some good points about the future of education. The use of iPods is widely known in higher education, Duke for example. The concept is simple, that is what students are used too. As a UOP student, I can tell you that UOP is did not adopt the use of the technology like video and audio. The tech used to be so heavy that it would bring down servers and home networks with the 300,000+ students. Hopefully that will change as those technologies and the other cool stuff like social networking, blogs, wikis, etc become more commonplace.

    As for an MD online. I am an online student, and a doctoral student to boot, but the idea of my doc never working on a live or not-live person is frightening. That said, some courses could absolutely be done online to save time, energy and resource. Is it the future of med school? We’ll see.

  2. REO SpeedDealer said,

    I only started doing well in med school when I stopped going to class. This was before the lecture on video phenomenon. We had good old-fashioned noteservice where we paid people to take notes and make copies for everyone in the class. It was twice as efficient as going to class. If the prof was entertaining, I’d go. If not, I was spending time at home or in the library reading noteservice. Most of the hardcore MD-at-home dudes in my class ended up rocking the tests. We would only see them every couple of weeks, but they destroyed the curve. When you have such an enormous volume of information to assimilate, effeciency is key.

  3. Morsetlis said,

    The problem seems to be that PhD and MD lecturers with no background in education are bad at teaching and lecturing, thus causing students who do go to class to waste more time learning the material than necessary.

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