More than a century after the Flexner Report laid the groundwork for standards of medical education in the United States, much has changed about how we train physicians. Certain key principles, like the need to train physicians in the scientific methods, remain a bedrock. However, since Flexner, the nature of how we create and consume knowledge—and how we translate it into clinical care—has been transformed.
It is no longer possible for physicians to retain all the key knowledge about clinical care in their heads—and luckily, with the advent of technology, they no longer have to. The rapid updating of medical knowledge with new scientific studies means that much of what I was taught in medical school in the 1990s is no longer valid today. Thus, the primary purpose of medical education cannot be about teaching facts alone. Instead, it should be about teaching students to think scientifically, to solve problems, and to understand the broader phenomena that shape disease and clinical practice.
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Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH, is K. T. Li Professor of International Health and Health Policy at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, Professor of Medicine at Harvard...