June 11, 1997

Educating Doctors: Crisis in Medical Education, Research and Practice

Author Affiliations

St Simons Island, Ga


by Stewart Wolf, 197 pp, $32.95, ISBN 1-56000-301-4, New Brunswick, NJ, Transaction Publishers, 1997.

JAMA. 1997;277(22):1815. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540460081042

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Medical Education

Dr Wolf's book opens with a critique of the current status of medical education at both college and medical school levels. He deplores the emphasis on scientific fact in college at the expense of liberal education in the arts and humanities. He feels that admission to medical school is based solely on mastery of scientific fact and that the total immersion in basic science continues through the 4 years. At the clinical level, bedside teaching has largely been replaced by impersonal exercises such as chart rounds, and the skilled physician-teacher is rarely observed talking to patients and taking a proper history with appropriate consideration of social and behavioral influences. The result is that the student learns to take histories in a rote, mechanical, question-and-answer mode.

"the fallacy of the distinction between organic and functional illness"

This reviewer agrees with Wolf's critique of medical education up to a