Changes in medicine are finally leading to changes in how medicine is taught at some university hospitals. Now, in addition to learning how the body works, aspiring doctors are having to learn how the medical system, itself, works.

At the University of Michigan Medical School, second year students spend class hours improving their communication and negotiation skills – something that will be important to them for working as part of a medical team, sharing options with their patients, determining with colleagues who gets top-billing as lead author on a research paper, and explaining how the whole thing works to the outside world.

Given the proliferation of medical knowledge – and the accelerated pace at which new discoveries are being made – it impossible for students to absorb in two years everything they’ll need to know to give their patients the very best of care. The old model of doctor as wise, omniscient savior went out the window a while ago. Now patients are coming in empowered with knowledge from the Internet that may be exceed what their physician knows about their condition and about leading-edge solutions for healing it. Thus, open-mindedness, adaptability, flexibility and resilience are now key components to a successful career as a healthcare provider. So, that’s what participating medical schools are teaching to their students.

The American Medical Association is funding 11 such schools around the country to teach students how the system works, how the rules change from one hospital to another, and how they need to function in flux if they’re going to enjoy their practice and better serve the patients of today and tomorrow.

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