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Bedside Teaching in the Preparation of Physicians for the 21st Century

Ernest L. Mazzaferri, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1986;146(10):1912. doi:10.1001/archinte.1986.00360220056010.
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Medicine, once the most respected of all the professions, is coming under increasing attack as it is currently practiced and taught. The Association of American Medical Colleges' GPEP report decries, among other things, the lack of "real-life" relevance in clinical training and calls for sweeping changes in medical education.1I wonder if a fundamental change is necessary in the way we teach clinical medicine— particularly the art of medicine—at the bedside. I think not. William Osler's simple statement "Medicine is learned at the bedside and not in the classroom," is as pristine today as when he taught internal medicine early in this century.2

In recent years, however, important changes have occurred in the way bedside teaching is done in American hospitals. In 1980, Linfors and Neelson3 concluded that there had been a significant shift in teaching activity away from the bedside and into the classroom. In one


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