The 100-year-old Flexner Report emphasized the role of basic science in the making of a doctor, producing the most significant change in medical education in the U.S. There has been no transformation of equal impact on how we train doctors to care for patients, which is the topic of this month’s issue. Presuming as a starting point that humanizing physician learning will result in more compassionate care for patients, this month’s authors probe ways to achieve that intermediate goal, from changes in medical student grading and resident work-hour limits to greater ethnic diversity among practicing physicians.
Since the 1950s courts have grappled with resident physicians’ liability for medical error. First, they asked, “Are medical residents true physicians?” Then, “Are they general practitioners or specialists?”
No doubt extra-medical education aids in personal satisfaction and career development, but do we really need so many doctors who are trained in business, policy, administration, history, or journalism?