I like reading what Atul Gwande has to say, despite the fact that he is a surgeon. I was sent a link to the commencement address that he gave this season to the graduates at Harvard Medical School. I have sat through a number of these and typically am underwhelmed but this one is worth a read in its entirity. There are two passages in particular that I want to call attention to:

“[The values needed for medical practice] include humility, an understanding that no matter who you are, how experienced or smart, you will fail. They include discipline, the belief that standardization, doing certain things the same way every time, can reduce your failures. And they include teamwork, the recognition that others can save you from failure, no matter who they are in the hierarchy These values are the opposite of autonomy, independency, self-sufficiency.”

This is what medical school curriculum has to focus on and I’m afraid we are not getting it. We seem to still be in the “science of discovery” mode and not the “science of synthesis.” This quote needs to go to everyone on the curriculum committee of every medical school in the country.

And for the admissions committee members:

“The revolution that remade how other fields handle complexity is coming to health care… I see this in the burst of students obtaining extra degrees in fields like public health, business administration, public policy, information technology, education, economics, engineering. Two years ago, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement started its Open School, offering free online courses in systems skills such as outcome measurement, quality improvement, implementation, and leadership. They hoped a few hundred medical students would enroll. Forty-five thousand did.”