Leadership in improving the education of doctors, while impressive, is not happening fast enough. While there are many obstacles, there is no time to waste in restructuring medical education to repair its present deficiencies, for otherwise outside forces could overwhelm today's education leaders with imperatives to make improvements on their own terms. The first step in addressing present shortcomings is to establish measurable objectives for the education of doctors that are aligned with the legitimate expectations of society and the enduring precepts of the medical profession. To provide guidance in establishing these objectives, the AAMC launched the Medical School Objectives Project (MSOP) two years ago. This project is now close to completing its initial phase, which is to define the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values every medical student must demonstrate before graduating. Phase Two will be concerned with implementation (e.g., establishing assessment methods; improving faculty development; etc.). As for aligning the outcomes of medical education with the precepts of the profession, nothing is more important: if doctors do not have high standards of professionalism--altruism, respect, compassion, honesty, integrity, and others--medicine's very survival is threatened. Medical educators must insist that their graduates demonstrate these attributes, through more careful admission criteria, more attention to medical professionalism in the curriculum and in the evaluation of students, more community service for students, and improved role modeling by faculty. Leadership for the changes that are needed will not come from a once-in-a-lifetime leader of heroic proportions but from everyone within academic medicine leading the profession to its promising future through quality education.
Created Date: 19 March 1998; Completed Date: 19 March 1998; Revised Date: 18 December 2000
© 1998 Association of American Medical Colleges