Only Half of Medical Students Understand -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

Only Half of Medical Students Understand

Less than half of graduating medical students in the U.S. says they received adequate training in understanding health care systems and the economics of practicing medicine, according to a new study.

The national survey of more than 58,000 medical students from 2003 to 2007 showed an overwhelming majority were confident about their clinical training. But when it came to understanding health economics, the health care system, managed care, managing a practice or medical record-keeping, 40 percent to 50 percent of students reported feeling inadequately prepared.

“Our patients expect us to understand the system,” says co-author of the study, Matthew M. Davis. “If we do not, that can result in poor patient care.”

“And if we do not expect doctors to understand the health care system, who is going to?” asks Davis. It is important, Davis says, that physicians can contribute to the national dialogue.

The study looked at graduates nationwide, and also compared two top-ranked medical schools in more detail. One of those schools had a higher intensity curriculum in health care systems. Students who had the higher intensity curriculum were three times more likely to report that they had appropriate training in health care systems. The time devoted to health care systems training, however, did not lead to lower perceptions about their clinical or other training.

“So, a higher intensity curriculum in health care systems could hold the potential to overcome medical students’ perceptions of inadequate training in the practice of medicine,” Davis says. “Those students in the higher-intensity curriculum were not less confident about other things - in other words, instead of a tradeoff, there is a payoff.”; Source: University of Michigan Health System