Add Healthcare Policy to Medical School Curriculum, Doctors Say

John Commins, February 28, 2011

Medical student and resident education has to include instruction on how healthcare systems function -- especially with the advent of complicated national healthcare reforms, University of Michigan physicians said.

Two U-M physicians and a U-M Medical School graduate called for a national curriculum in health policy for medical students and residents, in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. “Without education in health policy and the healthcare system, physicians are missing critical tools in their professional toolbox,” said co-author Matthew M. Davis, MD, associate professor at U-M in Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, Internal Medicine and Public Policy.

Davis said his previous research has found that fewer than half of graduating medical students in the U.S. said they received adequate training in understanding healthcare systems and the economics of practicing medicine.

“As a resident, I routinely care for patients who cannot afford their medications or don’t have access to regular medical care,” said Mitesh S. Patel, MD, a 2009 U-M Medical School graduate and lead author of the article. “These issues have a major impact on the delivery and cost of healthcare. However, they are rarely discussed in educational lectures or during teaching rounds.”

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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