Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Readers Respond

News Opinion Readers Respond

Medical students need to study human behavior as well as science

The changes coming with the 2015 MCAT exam represent an important shift in the way we assess and prepare tomorrow's doctors ("A better MCAT may not produce better doctors," July 10).

We recognize that these changes may bring challenges for aspiring doctors, especially those who have taken non-traditional paths to medical school. Yet this evolution of the MCAT exam will help medical schools better identify not only the students who are the most academically prepared to become physicians, but also those who have the potential to become the best doctors in a changing health care system.

Testing students' understanding of introductory psychology and sociology is especially critical, as we know that being a good physician requires knowledge beyond the natural sciences. It is about understanding people — how they think, interact, make decisions and behave. By balancing the two natural sciences tests with two sections that focus on behavioral and social sciences and critical analysis and reasoning, the nation's medical schools hope to encourage students studying humanities, economics, anthropology and other diverse fields to walk through their doors.

Recognizing the new exam will require additional preparation, the American Association of Medical Colleges is taking steps to provide low- and no-cost resources to help pre-med students prepare. Earlier this year, we formed a collaboration with Khan Academy and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to provide all students — particularly non-traditional students who aspire to begin careers in medicine — with access to free comprehensive video tutorials to help them study the concepts that will be tested by the new exam.

While volunteer and service opportunities are very much valued by admissions committees, a solid foundation in the psychological, social and biological factors that help explain behavior — and the impact of cultural, social, and socio-economic differences on well-being — is critical for producing well-rounded physicians who are best equipped to have good bedside manners, communication skills and the ability to connect with people.

Darrell G. Kirch, Washington, D.C.

The writer is president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • A better MCAT may not produce better doctors

    A better MCAT may not produce better doctors

    Inclusion of psychology and sociology questions may weed out precisely the aspiring medical students we need

  • Disappointed by Reimer's farewell

    Disappointed by Reimer's farewell

    I've been a reader of Susan Reimer's column for more years than I care to remember. I used to hate her for sounding like such a knee-jerk liberal and then, almost miraculously, her columns seemed to periodically resonate with me. Had I mellowed? Had she? Who knows, but our lives seemed to dovetail...

  • Killing the Red Line would be a big mistake

    Killing the Red Line would be a big mistake

    I don't know whether Gov. Larry Hogan and Transportation Secretary Peter Rahn are clueless or vindictive or both ("City leaders seek path to reverse Hogan Red Line call," June 29).

  • Sauls was a great school board chair

    Sauls was a great school board chair

    As a former city school board student member, I developed great relationships with several school board members and the board chair. I would like to join others to express my appreciation to Shanaysha Sauls for her outstanding service to our city school system ("New leadership appointments for...

  • Let's add statues, not subtract them

    Let's add statues, not subtract them

    We should not rewrite history, burn books or destroy statues. Besides those principles, Robert E. Lee was an honorable American who was forced to make an unwanted choice. However, Baltimore's Lee statute always made me uncomfortable, so I would like a change ("Status of Confederate statues to be...

  • BGE should invest in solar

    BGE should invest in solar

    Ever since we had solar panels installed on our roof, I have been following the interest in solar. We had solar installed with no initial investment on our part. We just pay for the energy used ("Maryland embraces solar power," May 21).

  • Veterans deserve nation's support

    Veterans deserve nation's support

    Every year on July 4th, we celebrate the birth of our nation taking special pride in the men and women who wear the cloth of the nation in defense of our freedom. For more than two centuries now, Americans have been called to serve and sacrifice, enduring hardships of all kinds to protect those...

  • Removing history to suit ideology: Isn't that what ISIS does?

    Removing history to suit ideology: Isn't that what ISIS does?

    As a member of the Maryland Historical Society, I am deeply dismayed at activists' calls to remove any monuments associated with the Confederate and Civil War history of Baltimore and Maryland in light of recent events in Baltimore and South Carolina — even denigrating Robert E. Lee whose name...

Comments
Loading

66°