Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $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

  • Get rid of bad cops
    Get rid of bad cops

    It's a sickening, recurring pattern in Baltimore: A citizen is arrested and while transporting the so-called suspect to the police precinct for booking, he gets the stuffing beat out of him. To further rub salt in the wound, the cops are ultimately exonerated from any wrongdoing ("Investigation...

  • Ignorance on immigration
    Ignorance on immigration

    Republicans have written to your newspaper claiming that President Barack Obama, former Gov. Martin O'Malley and other Democratic elected officials are trying to "give voting rights to millions of undocumented immigrants who came here illegally and don't belong in this country in the first place"...

  • Aid agencies sow seeds of hope
    Aid agencies sow seeds of hope

    I read the your report "Fierce clashes in Iraq as Islamic State seizes villages near Ramadi" (April 15) with a mixture of sadness, fear and exasperation.

  • MRIs for pets aren't so novel
    MRIs for pets aren't so novel

    I read your recent article about magnetic resonance imaging of pets at Johns Hopkins with great interest ("Johns Hopkins begins using high-tech equipment on pets," April 7).

  • How can Hillary Clinton be a champion of the middle class when she's part of the 1 percent?
    How can Hillary Clinton be a champion of the middle class when she's part of the 1 percent?

    Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton says there is something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the typical worker. I can't help but wonder why she doesn't feel there isn't something wrong with making $300,000 for one speech.

  • NRA's paranoia is catching
    NRA's paranoia is catching

    The Sun's editorial reflecting on the National Rifle Association convention in Nashville is an important statement on how the NRA has devalued our lives and our society ("Guns and the 'permanent darkness,'" April 16).

  • Legislators have a mandate, too
    Legislators have a mandate, too

    A recent letter writer was quick to point out that Gov. Larry Hogan was sent to Annapolis to do the voters' bidding ("Hogan stands up to Democrats," April 15). What did the voters who elected members of the General Assembly get? Aren't they sent there to do the voters' bidding?

Comments
Loading

63°