Can you teach empathy? How much time should med students spend in the classroom versus hands-on learning? Why does every med student fear the match? Second year Jefferson Medical College student Marissa Weber weighs in.
Weber: I don't know if there's a good way to teach empathy. I really would like to see medical education find a way to really emphasize that, because I think at the end of the day that's what people look for the most in their doctors. I am Marissa Weber. I am a second year medical student at Jefferson Medical College.
Announcer: Asking questions, seeking perspectives, searching for answers. Algorithms for Innovation. Live from Philadelphia at the AAMC 2013.
Interviewer: So Marissa tell me what is your biggest concern about being a student?
Weber: I think something that I would like to see changed is the amount of experience we get as medical students. I think first and second year they're really working on getting us to see patients and getting us in the field. But as it is I think by the time you get to third year you're really overwhelmed and you're not exactly sure what you're supposed to be doing. So really getting more clinical interaction early on would be something I think that could be really improved.
Interviewer: Tell me a little bit about the concern right now in the country about the shortage of residency slots.
Weber: It's a big concern for medical students in the United States when it comes to the match and worrying about being able to get a position and being able to do a residency after doing four years of medical school. So I think that's definitely something that people need to think about and make some decisions on soon because there's more medical schools opening up all across the country. I know that from being from Pennsylvania, there's one that just opened in Scranton and one that just opened up right across the river in Camden and they're cranking out more students because we need more doctors. But there's not going to be spots for them.
Interviewer: And that's a big issue obviously. I mean is it scary as a student to think, there are a few of your colleagues that may not match?
Weber: It's terrifying. I think every med student fears the match. It's one of those things that's completely 100% out of your control. You do the best you can but at the end it's a computer that's kind of making decisions for you and I do worry about the possibility of not matching. What would I have to do? I have loans. All of that. It is scary business.
Interviewer: And then let me just ask you, there's been a lot of talk about medical schools of the future, what that might look like. What are some of your thoughts on that in terms of curriculum and how you learn?
Weber: I think one of the big things we're looking at is the problem with med students who are coming in, are really excited to be doctors, and excited to make people's lives better and kind of become frustrated and lose a lot of those people skills and then empathy and kind of get caught up in the grind. And I really . . . I don't know if there's a good way to teach empathy.
I don't know if there's a good way to teach someone to be a good physician, to be a good clinician, but I really would like to see medical education find a way to really emphasize that because I think at the end of the day that's what people look for the most in their doctors. They want someone who's going to relate to them, someone who's going to understand their problems and I feel like as it is sometimes learning is stressed more than that. And of course that's important, you need to know the concepts. But you can learn concepts. It's really hard to learn how to be a people person.
Announcer: Impossible problems in academic medicine. Hear how others are solving their impossible problems at Algorithmsforinnovation.org.