Every medical student has a style of learning that works best for him or her, and each one is most likely to succeed in mastering new concepts and material when using that style.
Medical education is constantly evolving to keep pace with the rapidly advancing world of modern medical practice. The teaching model that has dominated for the last few decades — four years divided between lecture, study, and clinical rotations — is giving way to programs that include more creative approaches to learning. Yet these reforms may not be enough to produce the innovative, dynamic thinkers required by medicine’s expanding frontiers.
The curriculum overhaul at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine plans to completely replace lectures with so-called active learning approaches that let students learn material in a more hands-on way, as in simulation labs and group case studies. At the new Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, students are required to train and practice in the field as certified emergency medical technicians rather than sit through lectures during their first eight weeks.
Other programs give students more time for hands-on electives in later years by concentrating academic courses in early semesters. Still others supplement the traditional four-year system with classes targeting newer technologies and databases.
These changes are all aimed in the right direction. But they still force students at the same school to learn the material the same way. Why keep things uniform when we want original approaches to problem-solving and patient care?