Medical Education Goes Woke – WSJ


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The awakened dominance of American higher education can seem tragically comic when confined to English faculty. But when it infiltrates the hard sciences, the stakes are far higher. Read and cringe at how bright politics is about to infect medical education.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that represents and advises medical schools. It also influences the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the national accreditor that sets standards for medical schools. So when the AAMC tells schools to overhaul their teaching, America’s future doctors will have an obligation to listen.

The AAMC recently released a report detailing the new “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Competencies” expected of medical students and residents. This form of, well, political re-education could soon be required of practicing physicians working at teaching hospitals as well.

As a starting point, prospective physicians must master lucid concepts such as “intersectionality,” which the AAMC defines as “intersecting systems of oppression and discrimination faced by communities based on race, gender, ethnicity, ability, etc.” Medical students who managed to avoid learning critical race theory in college are now receiving an immersive course.

They are also expected to have “knowledge of the intersectionality of a patient’s multiple identities” – not to be confused with personality disorders – and “how each identity can lead to distinct and multiple forms of oppression or privilege in relation to clinical decisions and practice.” demonstrate. ” It sounds like every medical diagnosis has to be accompanied by a political and sociological analysis.

Aspiring physicians must learn that race is a “social construct that is a cause of inequalities in health and healthcare, not a risk factor for disease.” However, racial or ethnic groups are sometimes more prone to certain health problems. For example, black women are at higher risk for a type of breast cancer known as triple negative, and women of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage are at higher risk for the BRCA gene mutation.

Race-disease relationships are not always well understood, but knowledge of their existence can improve treatment outcomes for minority patients. It doesn’t help patients in dire need of a doctor to assume that their condition is really about society’s “systems of power, privilege, and oppression.”

Medical students are also expected to articulate how their own “identity, power, and privilege (e.g., professional hierarchy, culture, class, gender) affect interactions with patients” as well as “the impact of different systems of oppression on health and health care (e.g., colonization, white supremacy, acculturation, assimilation).”

Most young people who pursue a career in medicine want to help patients. Now they are being taught that “an intricate web of social, behavioral, economic and environmental factors, including access to quality education and housing, has a greater impact on patients’ health than physicians do,” AAMC executives write in a comment of StatNews are trumpeting their new bright curriculum. The implied message is that the best way to help patients is to expand the size and scope of government.

Social and economic circumstances can clearly influence individual health behaviors. But the hyper-class and racial consciousness that AAMC seeks to instill in physicians can result in poorer care for minorities. “Systems of repression” as the standard of analysis could easily become medical fatalism.

AAMC executives continue to write in StatNews that “we believe this topic deserves as much attention from learners and educators at every stage of their careers as the latest scientific breakthroughs.” That sounds dangerous. Will learning about mRNA technology or the latest treatment for melanoma give way to new theories of cultural appropriation?

America faces a looming and serious doctor shortage as baby boomers retire. It won’t help attracting prospective doctors to tell top students that they must face their guilt as racial and political oppressors before they can diagnose your cancer.

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Published in the print edition on July 27, 2022. Medical Education Goes Woke – WSJ

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