Medical education today is pedagogically superb, but the graduates of our educational programs are still unable to successfully translate decades of biomedical advances into health care that reliably meets the Institute of Medicine quality criteria. Realizing the promise of high-quality health care will require that medical educators accept that they must fulfill their contract with society to reduce the burden of suffering and disease through the education of physicians. Educational redesign must begin with the understanding that the professional identity of the physician who was successful in the acute disease era of the 20th century will not be effective in the complex chronic disease era of the 21st century. Medical schools and residency programs must restructure their views of basic and clinical science and workplace learning to give equal emphasis to the science and skills needed to practice in and lead in complex systems. They must also rethink their relationships with clinical environments so that the education of students and residents accelerates the transformation in health care delivery needed to fulfill our contract with society.
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