Monday, 22 December 2014

3 years to become a Physician - gimme a break!!

Why are we shortening Medical degrees?/            
              When I started to study medicine it was a five year course, now it's a four year course.  Looks like even that may be changing!  When I started studying Medicine in the fifties in  the British isles, it was a five year program and we wondered when it would be extended to a six year program.  It seemed there was so much to learn and the rate of expansion of medical knowledge seemed to be growing so rapidly  that it would be impossible to master the required knowledge in  the time available.  
              Many years later when I became a faculty member at the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine, I was quite sure that we had a program that was exceptional because of its five year duration.  I was disappointed when that fifth year was eliminated to fall into line with the rest of North America and thought it a retrogressive step.   That fifth year, known as the Junior Undergraduate Rotating Student Internship (the students known as JURSIs) was in my opinion a remarkable year that allowed students to reflect on what they wanted to do  for the rest of their lives.  Somewhere between students and interns, it allowed them to take responsibility in a graduated manner and it also allowed for adequate elective time for the students to gain exposure to the specialty that they might consider entering, when most students were making that decision based on  what they imagined it would be like.  They were encouraged to do the electives of their choice globally, provided that the sites met with certain basic requirements.  Thus these young men and women were able to observe a very broad range of both medical practice and of life styles.  Some gained amazing experience and insight of medicine and life outside of their home environment and some just had fun.  In either case it was an enriching experience and contributed towards their maturity  and understanding.     Notwithstanding my own biases as a residency training director, I was convinced that the fifth year contributed to both the medical and life skills of our graduates when compared with the four year graduates of other schools including ones with international reputations.  That extra year was evident in their skills on the wards as well as their general confidence and comfort  in dealing with both patients and colleagues.
           As an increasing number of schools contemplate reducing the curriculum to three years, I fear for the future of my profession.  No doubt they will turn out competent enough technicians, the administridiots will see to that but I doubt that they will turn out dedicated graduates comparable to the committed physicians of the past, who had more  to contribute to the healing arts than technical skills.
                                   Ars longa, vita brevis.   Hippocrates

If you have any opinions on  this, please share them.

1 comment:

  1. As a medical consumer it sounds pretty scary to me!