Changes in Undergraduate Medical Education

Sebastian Fretscher, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1994;154(1):106-109. doi:10.1001/archinte.1994.00420010142019.
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The article by Schatz1 in the May 1993 issue of the Archives contains valuable remarks as to the desirability of changing American undergraduate medical education. A graduate of both a German medical school and an American residency program, I agree in particular with the authors skepticism toward recent attempts to formally incorporate topics like socioeconomic, psychosocial, and bioethical studies into American medical curricula.

Interestingly, German educators just implemented such a program in 1970 as a part of a comprehensive change in university education that took place in the context of a political power shift from conservatives to reform-minded social democrats. Since this time, classroom courses in medical sociology, psychology, psychosomatic medicine, bio-mathematics, and clinical ecology (ie, public health and epidemiology) are standard mandatory features of the German medical curriculum. Since these courses consist largely of dry theoretical lectures and seminars and have no direct relationship to patient care, most


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