21 July 2009

Can a brother get an amen?

Since Kevin prefers to title his posts as questions...

Should health policy be mandatory for medical students? | KevinMD.com
Although some schools give some token courses on the subject, the majority don’t. For instance, everything I learned about health policy was from reading medical and policy-related blogs over the past few years.

This piece from Slate gives one reason: medical students are too busy. Indeed, “Faced with a choice between learning about a high-paying specialty like radiology or gastroenterology or cardiology—all of which have limited residency slots—and public policy, there is no choice.”

Some schools, like Harvard Medical School, are taking steps to change that, by forcing students to take semester-long courses in health policy. And that’s a good thing. Doctors need to have a louder voice in the health care debate, since any reform has to potential to fundamentally change our professional lives.

Amen, brother! Amen.

They should also give course on the business of medicine, which is closely connected to the health policy field.  It's amazing how many doctors I interview who have no clue how a patient interaction turns into dollars.  Medical school is the only vocational education you can undertake which does not train you in the economics of the field you are entering.


  1. I'll admit part of the attraction of the school I chose to finish my BSc at was the fact that I could take Health System Policy courses as credit towards my BSc.

  2. We had a course that included a lot of general discussion on health policy (mainly different countries' health systems etc), and the professor did some sort of crayzee pro-single-payer WHAT DO WE WANT? SINGLE PAYER!! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW? bullcrap during lectures. Hi, are we biased just a little bit? Me and the Canadian girl (whose family and friends suffered under single payer) left in protest along with a few others.

    To me, it's more important to know about MEDICINE than the professors' personal, biased opinions on politics (pretty much every polisci or policy-rich class I ever took was very biased towards the professor's personal views). I found my personal experience in said class to be a disgusting waste of time. I also don't feel that it's important for those who are NOT interested in health policy to learn about it; last thing we need are a bunch of otherwise-disinterested doctors who skimmed the surface of some issue in some class a long time ago talking out their ass on health policy, complete with their otherwise-credible doctor facade.

    No point, by the way, in analyzing health policy if you don't understand economics like some people who still think the Great Depression was helped by [New Deal] collusion, price-fixing and artificially-high wages, not that I'm naming names or anything.

  3. "Medical school is the only vocational education you can undertake which does not train you in the economics of the field you are entering."

    Amen brother. And it's universal. Not just in the US.

  4. and what exactly would you suggest we drop from the curriculum to be replaced by policy and finance courses?

  5. FWIW, I don't remember anyone explaining much about the economics of software companies in my CS program, which is also basically a vocational education. So it's not *just* medicine.

  6. jz,

    I'd drop anything with the words "Complementary," Integrative," or "Alternative" in its course title.


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