Acknowledging that it is important for medical schools to adapt educational programs to changes in the real world, Michael Whitcomb, senior vice president for medical education at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), explains, "Successful medical education will produce doctors who are effective practitioners." The AAMC is establishing three Medical School Objective Project (MSOP) expert panels on health care quality, clinical research, and basic science. The MSOP was started four years ago to develop learning objectives for medical schools in the United States. The MSOP's focus on quality of care stems, in part, from the report on medical errors issued by the Institute of Medicine last year, which identified the need for greater physician awareness of patient safety issues. The panel on clinical research will explore what students should learn to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to interpret and apply the results of clinical research in their patient care activities. It is also important for physicians to participate constructively in clinical research studies. The basic research panel will emphasize application of molecular and cellular biology to the clinical disciplines of pathology, pharmacology, immunology, and genetics. Recent years have seen an incredible growth in basic research that must be incorporated into undergraduate and medical school curricula. The panels will compile reports due out at the end of this year. Medical school deans and faculties can use the reports as guidelines in reviewing their education programs.
--Nadia S. Halim