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    Saturday, October 01, 2005

    Role Models Wanted: According to this Wall Street Journal article, we still lack good medical role models:

    In the past few years, there has been a movement to add courses on professionalism, empathy and communication skills. But there is mounting evidence that the new curriculum hasn't been effective. Paul Haidet, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine and an internist at the Houston VA Medical Center, has helped measure such efforts at 10 medical schools and says his surveys show the coursework is routinely undermined by what students see watching doctors in action.

    But how do you change grown person's personality, aside from some religious epiphany?

    Dartmouth Medical School has a new Web-based system called Dartmouth Medical Encounter System where students enter their experiences and encounters with patients to show how they meet the six ACGME competencies. It has created three societies that students join, which pair students with mentors to promote "some hard-to-get-at material, like professionalism, the privileges and obligations that come with it," says Joseph O'Donnell, an oncologist and senior advising dean at Dartmouth Medical School.

    At Southern Illinois University Medical School, an "Empathy 101" course asks students to share vignettes and poems about showing and feeling empathy toward patients.

    To train more caring, compassionate doctors, Indiana has developed a "Relationship-Centered Care" program that includes changing behavior of faculty doctors to act as better role models. Seven other medical schools recently spent a week on its campus to learn how to adapt some of its lessons for their own programs, in part to prepare to meet new ACGME requirements.

    How does that go over?

    Some students and faculty did initially resist, worried that sitting around discussing self-awareness and "role recognition" was all a waste of time in their busy lives. "It can all sound very Pollyanna-ish, as if we are all sitting in a circle holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya,' " says Richard Frankel, a medical sociologist and professor at Indiana. "But once they experience it they change their minds."

    I remain skeptical, but I wish them luck.

    posted by Sydney on 10/01/2005 12:53:00 PM 0 comments


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