One of my most powerful memories from my childhood is of going to the doctor for my preschool checkup, where a nurse pricked my finger for a blood test. The room was cold, the nurse was less than friendly, and I have since developed an intense fear of medical professionals. An article in The New York Times reports that I am not alone in my feelings: recent surveys have shown that many people feel uncomfortable interacting with physicians. Many patients feel the medical world is driven by technology, and the patient’s thoughts and feelings tend to get ignored. But can a change in medical education help improve doctor – patient relationships? The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) thinks it just might.
A revision of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is in the works, and the new exam is projected to include two new sections that span nearly half of the exam. One section will cover social and behavioral sciences, while the second will focus on critical analysis and reading. This section will test students’ ability to analyze passages covering subjects such as ethics and cross – cultural studies. The new MCAT, to be administered for the first time in 2015, is an attempt to restore bedside skills to the medical profession.
Given the changes that the MCAT will undergo, it is becoming more common for medical schools to require students to take classes on interviewing and communication techniques in an effort to create a more holistic admissions process. The New York Times article reports that classes once largely populated by social science majors have had an extreme increase in enrollment by premed students.
The first few years following this change, which will alter the premed educational system, will likely have a few hiccups and require further adjustments. It is my hope, however, that implementing these new requirements will allow for better doctor – patient communication. Barrell G. Kirch, president of the AAMC, states, “The goal is to improve the admission process to find the people you and I would want as our doctors.” And that is something I look forward to.