Report cures medical school shortcomings

Recommendations aim to change the way medicine is taught

Aescupalian Society President Taylor Lougheed says Queen’s is on track for implementing the report’s recommendations.
Aescupalian Society President Taylor Lougheed says Queen’s is on track for implementing the report’s recommendations.

A new report by the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada suggests a dramatic change needs to be made to the approach of training and recruiting doctors.

The 48-page report, titled The Future of Medical Education in Canada: A Collective Vision for MD Education, stresses the importance of adapting to the changes facing medical education. The report consulted with and was endorsed by the 17 medical schools in Canada. The report includes 10 Future of Medical Education in Canada (FMEC) recommendations for undergraduate medical education and five recommendations for implementing the other 10. The recommendations call for a commitment to respond to the diverse needs of medical patients and embrace the more human side of patient care, among other things.

School of Medicine Vice-Dean of Medical Education Dr. Lewis Tomalty said he thinks the report is a positive step for medical education in Canada.

“It again puts Canada in a leadership role in developing physicians for the future,” he said.

Dr. Tomalty said the recommendations in the report will soon be mandatory at all Canadian medical schools.

“We will be required to follow the 10 recommendations and each one of those is going to require us to change a number of things we do … from admissions right through to how we teach our students in all four years of their learning,” he said.

The 10 FMECrecommendations are: address individual and community needs, enhance admissions processes, build on the scientific basis of medicine, promote prevention and public health, address the hidden curriculum, diversify learning contexts, value generalism, advance inter- and intra-professional practice, adopt a competency-based and flexible approach and foster medical leadership.

The five enabling recommendations are: realign accreditation standards, build capacity for change, increase national collaboration, improve use of technology and enhance faculty development.

Dr. Tomalty said one of the challenges of the report is figuring out an effective way to implement the recommendation to increase the diversity of incoming medical students.

“One of the biggest issues is, how do you actually do this?” he said, adding that more than 3,000 people apply for medical school at Queen’s each year and about 100 are admitted.

Dr. Tomalty said the Queen’s School of Medicine hopes to increase diversity by encouraging students who wouldn’t typically apply for medical school to do so.

“I think one of the issues we can look at is taking a step back and finding out who could potentially apply to medical school, and is not, be it for economic reasons or whatever and what is prohibiting these students from applying,” he said. “It’s more than just looking at who is coming into medical school right now. “

Dr. Tomalty said he thinks Queen’s is already doing well in attracting students with interests outside of medicine into the program.

“We interview around 300 to 500 hundred students based on their marks,” he said, adding that once students have been chosen for interviews, marks are put aside.

“The interview looks very carefully at their background, at their interests in academics and outside of academics,” he said.

Dr. Tomalty said Queen’s is also doing well in other areas, such as inter-professional collaboration.

“If you put it on a scale of where we need to go, some were at five, some were at two and some were at an eight,” he said.

Aesculapian Society President Taylor Lougheed said he thinks Queen’s is in a good position to address and implement some of the recommendations in the report. He added that because of the scope of the recommendations, he thinks it may be a gradual process.

“Some of them are fairly intense so it’s not like it’s going to happen overnight, so it’s going to take some time to develop a strategy,” he said.

Lougheed said he thinks the recommendation to encourage inter-professional education is a challenging one, but one that Queen’s has already taken steps towards achieving.

“There’s an office of inter-professionalism and they’re looking at ways to incorporate, or even just have social events, amongst medical students, nursing students, rehab students,” he said.

Lougheed said he also thinks Queen’s School of Medicine has done a good job of recruiting students from various academic backgrounds.

“It’s an ongoing challenge, but I think Queen’s is doing fine and I think some of the other schools are also doing fine,” he said. “I think medical schools are slowly starting to realize that there are a number of exceptional candidates that maybe took a different path that have just as much, or sometimes even more, to offer with their diverse experiences.”

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