Medical education wakes up – WSJ

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The woke dominance of American higher education can seem tragically comical when confined to the English department. But when it seeps into the hard sciences, much more is at stake. Read and wince at how woke 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. He also has influence with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the national accrediting body that sets standards for medical schools. So when the AAMC asks schools to rethink the way they teach, America’s future doctors will be forced to listen.

The AAMC recently released a report outlining new “diversity, equity and inclusion skills” that medical students and residents will need to master. Practicing doctors who work in teaching hospitals may also soon be required to undergo this form of, say, political re-education.

As a starting point, aspiring physicians will need to master enlightened concepts such as “intersectionality,” which the AAMC defines as “overlapping 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 will now take an immersive course.

They will also need to demonstrate “an awareness of the intersectionality of a patient’s multiple identities” – not to be confused with personality disorders – and “how each identity can lead to varied and multiple forms of related oppression or privilege. clinical decisions and practice. “It gives the impression that every medical diagnosis will have to be accompanied by a political and sociological analysis.

Aspiring doctors will need to learn that race is a “social construct that is a cause of inequities in health and health care, not a risk factor for disease.” Yet, racial or ethnic groups sometimes have a greater propensity for certain health problems. For example, black women are at higher risk of developing a type of breast cancer called triple-negative, and women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are at higher risk for a BRCA gene mutation.

The relationships between race and disease are not always well understood, but knowing that they exist can improve outcomes for minority patients. It does not help patients in immediate need of a physician to assume that their condition is really tied to “systems of power, privilege and oppression” in society.

Medical students will also be expected to explain how their own “identities, power, and privilege (e.g., professional hierarchy, culture, class, gender) influence interactions with patients” as well as “the impact of various systems of oppression on the health and health. care (eg colonization, white supremacy, acculturation, assimilation).

Most young people who pursue a career in medicine want to help patients. Now they will be taught that “a complex web of social, behavioral, economic and environmental factors, including access to quality education and housing, has a greater influence on patient health than doctors” , write the leaders of the AAMC in an op-ed for StatNews. trumpeting their new awakening program. The implicit message is that the best way to help patients is to expand the size and reach of government.

Social and economic circumstances can clearly influence the health behavior of individuals. But the hyper-class and racial consciousness that the AAMC wants to instill in doctors can lead to a deterioration in care for minorities. “Systems of oppression” as a standard of analysis could easily become medical fatalism.

AAMC leaders write further in StatNews that “we believe this topic deserves as much attention from learners and educators at every stage of their career as the latest scientific breakthroughs.” It sounds dangerous. Will learning about mRNA technology or the latest melanoma treatment be sidelined by new theories of cultural appropriation?

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

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Appeared in the July 27, 2022 print edition.


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