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

  • Put Jackson-Lee statue in context

    Put Jackson-Lee statue in context

    Our community is having a heated discussion about Confederate flags, monuments, white supremacy and "the past." I want to zero in on the Jackson-Lee statue in Homewood that sits along Art Museum Drive near the beautiful Wyman Dell and across from the Baltimore Museum of Art ("Status of Confederate...

  • Hogan sees Baltimore as the enemy

    Hogan sees Baltimore as the enemy

    Regarding Baltimore's transit problems, one of the best local investigative reports ever was submitted in the form of a letter to the editor by Alex Lopata of Crownsville ("O's fans mistreated by MTA," June 30).

  • The Red Line is wrong for Baltimore

    The Red Line is wrong for Baltimore

    Now that Gov. Larry Hogan has nixed the Red Line, the predictable wailing and gnashing of teeth has begun ("Hogan goes off the tracks," June 25).

  • An alternative track for the Red Line

    An alternative track for the Red Line

    There is another path to developing the Red Line that is much better than what the city and the MTA have been recommending ("City leaders remain dedicated to fighting for Red Line," July 1).

  • Electronic cigarettes merit FDA oversight

    Electronic cigarettes merit FDA oversight

    Youth use of e-cigarettes tripled from 2013 to 2014, and they are now used by kids more than regular cigarettes. But now the House Appropriations Committee — of which Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger is a member — is considering grandfathering in e-cigarettes, little cigars and other products at...

  • Our Soviet-style culture purge

    Our Soviet-style culture purge

    Our country appears to be in the midst of a cultural purge worthy of the old Soviet Union where one could go to the library to look for a bio of a recently-declared "non-person" in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia only to find some cut out pages. Using the deaths of those nine innocent victims in...

  • Officer getting off too lightly

    Officer getting off too lightly

    With regard to police brutality, it's the top officials in Baltimore who have to set policy and do their jobs. The Sun reports Officer Michael McSpadden has been sued five times for alleged brutality or misconduct ("Baltimore officer will not face charges for hitting handcuffed suspect," June 30).

Comments
Loading

79°