Pre-Med’s New Priorities: Heart and Soul and Social Science





PROF. PIERS J. HALE knew something was up when his students at the University of Oklahoma were clamoring this spring to get into his medical ethics class, which was formerly populated largely by social science majors. What led to the sudden burst of popularity, he discovered, were plans by the Association of American Medical Colleges to revise the medical school admissions test to incorporate a hefty dose of social science....

“Enrollment doubled and I had to turn 20 away,” said Professor Hale, a professor of the history of modern science. “But what’s really exciting is not that taking this class will get these kids into medical school, but that it will help them become better physicians.”...

...[T]he Association of American Medical Colleges began three years ago to redesign the MCAT, surveying thousands of medical school faculty members and students to come up with a test tailored to the needs and desires of the 21st century. In addition to more emphasis on humanistic skills, the new test had to take into account important new values in medicine like diversity, with greater focus on health care for the underserved, Dr. McGaghie said.

As a result, there will be questions about gender and cultural influences on expression, poverty and social mobility, as well as how people process emotion and stress. Such subjects are “the building blocks medical students need in order to learn about the ways in which cognitive and perceptual processes influence their understanding of health and illness,” explains the preview guide to the new MCAT....



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