Before entering graduate business school, applicants must spend a minimum of two years in the corporate world gaining experience and applying the knowledge earned from the undergraduate career. I’ve been thinking more and more recently that medical schools should take the same approach. For starters, we have too many immature people that enter medical school. For example, in my class, the vast majority of the students were accepted directly out of college and were only 22-years-old. Their lack of leadership and work experience showed from the very first day of classes. However, that ignorance and inexperience is now more apparent during the third year than ever before. Now I’ve come to the realization that medical schools should require several years of postbaccalaureate experience before even considering applicants. My take on it is that the whole dynamic of the medical profession would change simply by requiring work experience as an entry to the field.
In my case, I used to be an engineer before coming to medical school. I can use my engineering mindset as a problem solver to get around many issues that I come across on the wards. I can anticipate problems based on prior incidents and adapt to become more efficient in the future. One of my classmates was an investment banker. His knowledge of finance is astounding, and I would gladly trust him with the school’s budget so that he could deliver to us better health fairs and an outstanding graduation party.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of medical students have no touch with the outside world. For them the half study/half party life of college gets translated into the half study/half party life of medical school, which then leads to disastrous results. In addition to the disenchantment that so many medical students experience, there are a small minority that leave the field altogether before completing the four years. Many students feel as if they are being abused-and rightfully so. This dissatisfaction with the American medical schools is at an all-time high. However, requiring work experience would change several things:
Students would no longer accept inefficiencies. The current method of training involves long class hours, Physicianship Training sessions, and endless rounding on the wards, that only leads to scutwork and a secretary-like lifestyle. A new breed of medical students with real-world experience in hand would never tolerate this bullshit. They would demand that class be run more efficiently. They would realize that courses in ethics and professionalism are unnecessary because either students are ethical and professional before school starts, or they are not ethical and professional, and no amount of lecturing will ever change that. They would not accept scutwork as a method of “training.” They would demand that techs be hired to take the place of holding retractors, calling consults, and fetching old medical records.
This new breed of students would lead to a new breed of residents which in turn, would lead to a new breed of attendings. Those would be the type of attendings I would want working on me.