Less than half of medical students understand health care system

Sep 30, 2009

Less than half of graduating medical students in the U.S. say they received adequate training in understanding health care systems and the economics of practicing medicine, according to a study conducted by the University of Michigan Medical School.

The national survey of more than 58,000 medical students from 2003-2007 showed an overwhelming majority were confident about their clinical training. But when it came to understanding health economics, the system, managed care, managing a practice or medical record-keeping, 40 percent to 50 percent of students reported feeling inadequately prepared.

The findings were published this month in Academic Medicine.

"Our patients expect us to understand the system," says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the Child and Research (CHEAR) Unit at the University of Michigan Medical School. "If we don't, that can result in poor patient care.

"And if we don't expect doctors to understand the health care system, who is going to?" asks Davis, who co-authored the research with Monica L. Lypson, M.D., assistant dean of graduate at the U-M Medical School and Mitesh S. Patel, M.D., M.B.A., a U-M medical school graduate now at the University of Pennsylvania.

Davis explains researchers wanted to assess what are learning about health care systems, especially as the nation struggles with health care reform. It's important, Davis says, that physicians can contribute to the national dialogue.

The study looked at graduates nationwide from 2003 to 2007, and also compared two top-ranked medical schools in more detail. One of those schools had a higher intensity curriculum in health care systems.

Students who had the higher intensity curriculum were three times more likely to report that they had appropriate training in health care systems. The time devoted to health care systems training, however, did not lead to lower perceptions about their clinical or other training.

"So, a higher intensity curriculum in health care systems could hold the potential to overcome medical students' perceptions of inadequate training in the practice of medicine," Davis says.

"Those students in the higher-intensity curriculum were not less confident about other things … in other words, instead of a tradeoff, there is a payoff," he says.

Davis says he hopes the survey will prompt medical schools to stress the importance not only of physicians' ability to heal, but also to help guide their patients through a complex health care system. A higher-intensity curriculum in medical economics appears to work, he says.

Source: University of Michigan Health System (news : web)

Explore further: Humiliation tops list of mistreatment toward med students

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study links primary care shortage with salary disparities

Sep 09, 2008

The nation's shortage of primary care physicians has been linked to a host of poor health outcomes, and a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that salary disparities play a majo ...

Recommended for you

Humiliation tops list of mistreatment toward med students

2 hours ago

Each year thousands of students enroll in medical schools across the country. But just how many feel they've been disrespected, publicly humiliated, ridiculed or even harassed by their superiors at some point during their ...

Surrogate offers clues into man with 16 babies

10 hours ago

When the young Thai woman saw an online ad seeking surrogate mothers, it seemed like a life-altering deal: $10,000 to help a foreign couple that wanted a child but couldn't conceive.

Nurses go on strike in Ebola-hit Liberia

10 hours ago

Nurses at Liberia's largest hospital went on strike on Monday, demanding better pay and equipment to protect them against a deadly Ebola epidemic which has killed hundreds in the west African nation.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

Aug 31, 2014

It's pretty hard to find a novel way to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by now, but two-time Grammy-winning rapper Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, has done it—getting his dousing in the center ...

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

darthbonobo
not rated yet Sep 30, 2009
That's still better than the 0% of politicians that understand the health system and are trying to "fix" it...