Team Training of Medical Students in the 21st Century: Would Flexner Approve?

Morrison, Gail MD; Goldfarb, Stanley MD; Lanken, Paul N. MD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181c8845e
Flexner Centenary: Article
Abstract

As the 100-year anniversary of the Flexner Report approaches us, the physician workforce in the 21st century faces a radically different health care environment. To function effectively in this environment, future physicians, including medical students, will need educational programs that incorporate the theory and practice of teams and teamwork. Medical school graduates will be expected to understand how teams function and be capable themselves of functioning in a team. They will need to be competent in the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of teams and teamwork.

Numerous reports during the past 10 years from national oversight and safety institutes and agencies have supported the need for team training in the health care environment, especially as a means to decrease errors and increase patient safety. Hospital training programs have begun implementing interdisciplinary team training around high-risk scenarios for their trainees and staff.

However, for most medical schools, competence in team training has not been an instructional objective of educating medical students. Most instruction has been individual learning (i.e., lectures) or group learning (i.e., team-based or problem-based learning) even though there is strong evidence for team learning to be effective. With the ongoing changes in health care, it is argued that Flexner would concur that team training is necessary for medical students.

Author Information

Dr. Morrison is vice dean for education, director, Academic Programs Office, and professor of medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Goldfarb is associate dean for curriculum and professor of medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Lanken is associate dean for professionalism and humanism and professor of medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Morrison, University of Pennsylvania, Suite 100 Stemmler Hall, 3450 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104; telephone: (215) 898-8034; fax: (215) 573-4289; e-mail: morrisog@mail.med.upenn.edu.

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges