Reforming Medical Education

Pre-med education is fundamentally flawed. This is something that the Medical Education community has known and written about for decades but has never acted upon. There are three critical problems:

  • Pre-med science requirements were established almost 100 years ago and have not changed since then despite extraordinary advances in clinical medicine and biomedical science.
  • These requirements consume an enormous amount of time and energy, detracting severely from what should be an enriching, stimulating college education.
  • The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is an expensive (between the tests fees and pre courses), time-consuming hurdle that perpetuates the need to focus on memorization of facts and competition for grades.

More than 100 years ago, Abraham Flexner reformed medical education throughout the nation. He was considered visionary and is responsible for establishing what we currently consider to be the gold standard for how medicine is taught, both in medical school and in preparing for medical school. Since then, medicine and science have changed more rapidly than any other field, with the possible exception of information technology. Yet educators at both the college and medical school levels have failed to refresh his vision and align the physician training with society’s needs. We’ve also perpetuated the notion that everyone has to be taught the same requirements in lockstep, with little room for flexible, individualized, and self-directed learning.

Current pre-med requirements are widely considered to be a sort of hazing or weeding-out process that separates students who are worthy of entering medical school from those who are not. This has created what many call “pre-med’ syndrome,” an undergraduate culture that runs counter to what we value most in medicine: academic and intellectual rigor, creative thinking, teamwork and collaboration, and social conscience. Pre-med syndrome includes aggressive competition for grades with a “cut-throat” or “gunner” mentality, and an intense focus on cramming, memorization, and “high-yield” studying with little focus on true learning.

The MCAT is possibly the greatest hurdle to entering the profession of medicine. It focuses on sciences that we know are marginally relevant to the practice of medicine and translational research. It gauges test-taking ability but has no predictive value when it comes to deciding who will be a great doctor or a great scientist. Over-reliance on the MCAT has created a situation that forces students to spend months studying for it, as well as requiring them to enroll in expensive, time-consuming prep courses. It’s a well-established fact that students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and cannot afford these prep courses do not do as well. It’s also well-known that women and minority students do not perform as well on this exam and may be disproportionately excluded from medical school as a result.

Our answer to this crisis in pre-med education is FlexMed.

  • You will know before the end of sophomore year that you have a guaranteed spot at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, one of the nation’s top 20 medical schools.
  • You will not have to take 100-year-old science requirements.
  • You will have enormous flexibility to determine your own undergraduate education, unencumbered by pre-med syndrome or the MCAT.
  • We will direct your pre-med education with more relevant and progressive coursework that will position you to define the future of medicine and biomedical research.

Discover FlexMedor visit us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn . We are looking for the best and brightest, the non-conformist, the student who is mature, thoughtful, and not willing to sacrifice the most important years of his or her education. If you want to harness your passion, creativity, and intellectual curiosity while contributing to society in meaningful ways, come join us—we are creating the future of medical education.

David Muller, MD, is the Dean for Medical Education at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Muller also co-founded and directed the Mount Sinai Visiting Doctors Program and is the Professor and Chair of the Department of Medical Education.

4 thoughts on “Reforming Medical Education

  1. avatar
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    Bonnie Scott Jelinek

    February 28, 2013 at 3:48am

    This is why we were so excited our son, Scott, will be entering Mt Sinai this year!

  2. avatar
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    Reflex Hammer

    April 17, 2013 at 6:17am

    Why is it that students in the program are “not permitted” to take the MCAT?

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      Jimmy Rustles

      May 7, 2013 at 8:36am

      I’m a gender studies major. What are my chances? Do I still have to take STEP 1? My uncle is a Doctor and he says medical school is 12 years long. Is this school in the Caribbean?

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