AMA, AAMC call for reform of the med ed system

According to this article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (subscription req'd), the AMA and the Association of American Medical Colleges signed a "statement of cooperation" a month or so ago at the AMA's 2005 Annual Meeting. The statement calls for a total overhaul of the medical education system, from soup (undergrad) to nuts (continuing med ed).

While the article mainly focuses on the problems that need to be addressed and suggested reforms at the undergrad and resident levels, it does say this about CME:

    Michael E. Whitcomb, MD, senior vice president of medical education at the AAMC and director of its Institute for Improving Medical Education, said that if medical education reform is to improve the quality of health care, it must address continuing medical education. He said most physicians do not change their practice behaviors as a result of CME; they obtain credits primarily to meet licensure requirements.

    While Whitcomb questioned the logic of CME requirements that specify a certain number of hours be taken in Category I rather than in the physician‘s specialty, [Kenneth I. Shine, MD, executive vice chancellor for health affairs of the University of Texas System and former president of the Institute of Medicine] questioned whether partial credit should be withheld if a physician cannot demonstrate a subsequent improvement in clinical practice after attending a CME presentation.

    "There is a tremendous challenge in thinking about the continuum of medical education," said Whitcomb. "We have to understand what our real purpose is as educators, and it is not to recreate the next generation of physicians in our own likeness."

Well, we've heard calls for reform before, and yet the changes are coming slowly and reluctantly. They sound pretty determined to rebuild the system from the ground up, though, so maybe the momentum will pick up now.

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