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Letters to the Editor

Competing Curricular Priorities: Business School vs Medical School

Rosenow, Christian; Khurana, Aditya

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doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003023
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To the Editor:

Pathipati and Cassel’s Invited Commentary1 proposes to address medical student burnout by advocating for medical schools to adopt business school initiatives into their curricula. The authors highlight three fundamental concepts: (1) stimulating creativity, (2) managing response to stressful situations, and (3) promoting career opportunities. Although business school curricula may have characteristics from which medical schools may benefit, the implementation of such a program could potentially contend with many goals of medical education.

Business schools, naturally, emphasize competition as a core concept, through the study of competing business models. This stimulation of individual competition runs contrary to the team-based models of learning and care that are being adopted across the medical field. Furthermore, though the concept of teamwork is present in business schools, the team approach to business solutions can take less priority as students strive for entrepreneurial success. Future physicians must be taught how to navigate the expansive web of health care professionals collaboratively instead of competitively. Likewise, medical schools place high priority on learning from the patient’s perspective; this may be delivered through student partnerships with members of the community or visiting patients. Business schools seldom place their students in scenarios representative of the client’s perspective.

The basic business school concepts highlighted by Pathipati and Cassel can currently be seen in some medical schools. For example, our curriculum at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine is using complex patient simulations and early experiences on rounds to stimulate independence and critical thinking in challenging scenarios. Furthermore, we are provided an opportunity to initiate tangible health care solutions through capstone projects in our health care delivery course. Finally, career exploration is provided via 29 total weeks of free time for students to explore clinical and nonclinical aspects of medicine during their preclinical years.

We would like to add that business schools perhaps view their cohorts not as students but as professionals early into their future careers. We feel that we are viewed similarly by our health care faculty as physicians-in-training instead of as students. Perhaps this mental framework, along with certain changes to preclinical education, is what will allow medical trainees to better meet the growing expectations of our future careers. Through careful processing, some of these concepts used by business schools may benefit medical curricula; however, medical schools should not be inclined to adopt these practices beyond minor curricular adjustments.

Christian Rosenow
Second-year medical student, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, Scottsdale, Arizona;; ORCID:
Aditya Khurana
Third-year medical student, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, Scottsdale, Arizona;; ORCID:


1. Pathipati AS, Cassel CK. Addressing student burnout: What medical schools can learn from business schools. Acad Med. 2018;93:1607–1609.
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