Medical school is overly costly and unnecessary (at least in most cases)

The basic idea is as follows:

In order to practice medicine in the US, one must first pass their Board examinations (among other things). One is not even allowed to take the test unless they have gone to a medical school that is accredited.

To me, this is indicative of a broken process. If the test is meaningful, then it should be able to stand on its own and say “Here is what student X knows about a particular subject.” There should not a category of knowledge that is required to be taught in medical school, but not important enough that it should be untested. In other words, the test should be made longer, and the requirement to have gone to medical school dropped.

The reason this would make a difference is that especially in the third and fourth years of medical school, most of the time is spent exploring areas of medicine that a student may not be interested in, and will never have any contact with every again. This takes approximately two years (see here for an example).

Separate and distinct from that time that is spent on areas of medicine that may be irrelevant to the student, by the time that a student is actually practicing medicine, this most probably is reflected in the difference between that is needed to pass the Board examination Step 1 (lots of technical knowledge in many areas of science) and the recertification exam (which tests clinical knowledge in a very specific area).

It seems that all the technical knowledge that first and second year medical school students is not worth retaining (in the eyes of the recertification boards). If that is the case, why spend all this time learning it?

It seems clear that the doctors everywhere seem to be clear that in order to be a qualified doctor, the following is necessary:

  1. Hands on knowledge (residency) in a particular area
  2. Clinical knowledge (in a particular area)

Everything else is not crucial. Now, in some cases, it might be very useful for researchers and the like, but for the vast majority of doctors, most of the material is useless (and probably quickly forgotten). No practicing (or very very few) doctors need to know pharmacology. Reading the drug interactions is probably more reasonable (do people really think that doctors download a model of all the drugs that they prescribe and analyze the structure to determine all the possible drug interactions?) and less error prone. A dermatologist probably does not need to take an anatomy course.

To all the people that say “everything in the body interacts with everything else, and therefore you have to know everything” that would sound a lot more convincing if it was tested after graduation.

Now, I would agree that medical school (as it currently exists) is useful for a small subset of people that don’t have any idea what they want to do. A large subset of the first and second year curriculum would probably be very useful to researchers, people going for their PHDs, and the like, but just to practice medicine, does not seem to useful (even in the eyes of the recertification professionals).

I think it goes without saying that a medical school system that is more streamlined would be cheaper and faster, and who knows, if only the relevant material is focused on, perhaps more relevant material can be taught (and taught better).

Feel free to comment below


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