Essentials for Education and Training for Tomorrow's Physicians

Essentials for Education and Training for Tomorrow's Physicians

Timothy Edward A. Barrett (University of the West Indies, Bahamas)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2811-1.ch010


Education and training of medical students and postgraduate residents must undergo a critical review in light of the changing times and attitudes. The demands of life in general are enough to provide significant stressors for today's students in addition to coping with pressures of balancing passing exams with meeting the expectations of family and instructors. This chapter will highlight the realities of the effect of the pressures of study on the students' mental health and well-being. It will then describe several changes that can be made to the way medical students are trained which then shifts the focus to personal growth and development and away from the traditional goals of knowledge, skills and competencies for the goal of passing the exams. In the end, this chapter will challenge readers and institutions to pause and reconsider the current approach to training of medical students.
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Historical Considerations

The author’s impression based on over forty years of practice, is that not too many years ago, the physician seemed to occupy a special place in the eyes of the people in the community and in the hospitals. He or she was the undisputed leader of the team and the developer of healthcare services in addition to being trusted to do his or her best for the patient. This unquestioning trust had a healing effect in that once the doctor reassured the patient; the patient would start the process of improvement from that instant on in quite many cases. Over recent years, the profession of medicine has developed the reputation of having physicians who care much more about finances (their own) than the profession of medical practice and even though the sins of a few have stained the reputation of the many, the public perception has changed significantly. This means that the healing component of the doctor-patient interaction, unquestioning trust, may have been compromised based on that perception.

This author has the habit of asking all students of medicine, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, to give him a description of whom they will be when they graduate with a medical degree or to describe whom they are having graduated with a medical degree. The response is always, ‘I will be a doctor or physician or I am a doctor or physician’ (of some description). The author’s response to them is that they described their role and function but not who they are. The author insists that indeed they are persons who are practicing medicine and who can decide not to practice medicine at any given point in time but, they do not have the capacity to stop being a person.

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