The societal and economic forces driving change in medical education are affecting communities as well as universities. Each of the four authors of this paper is deeply involved in one of the components of their locale's well-developed community-based medical educational system, and each describes how change is influencing his role in that system, whether the role be managing a community hospital, directing a local Area Health Education Center, participating as a family medicine faculty member, or being a community preceptor. They agree on some common themes: (1) that it is good that medical students' education is moving into the community (e.g., this validates the importance of the community hospital to medical education, is an acknowledgment of the importance of generalism, and provides students invaluable learning experiences); (2) that educating medical students in the community is expensive, and more funding and resources are needed so that the area's hospitals, community faculty, preceptors, and support services can be fairly compensated for their commitment; and (3) that their community-based education system can no longer absorb the costs of training more medical students. This is not a criticism of academic medical centers, which are under tremendous financial pressures themselves, but is simply to state the community perspective and to urge fairness in the distribution of resources for medical education. Community institutions and academic medical centers will work individually to create their own integrated health care systems but must work together to create a better, more cost-effective system for educating medical students.
Created Date: 16 May 1997; Completed Date: 16 May 1997; Revised Date: 18 December 2000
© 1996 Association of American Medical Colleges