Medical Schools Teach Students to Accept Destructive Trends in Medicine

Jan. 10, 2001

Medical Schools Teach Students to Accept Destructive Trends in Medicine

Criticisms of Market Influences on Training Published in Medical School Journal

WASHINGTON, D.C.? As health services are increasingly compromised by market forces, medical schools are missing an important opportunity to teach students and residents to resist and change these destructive forces, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen?s Health Research Group, wrote in an article published today in Academic Medicine, the monthly publication of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The model of medical care that emphasizes professionalism and service is under threat because profit motives have pushed the ideas of universal health care and low-cost medical education out of the realm of discussion, Dr. Wolfe wrote. If medical curricula were to include research and in-depth discussions of these market forces and their impacts, students would be educated to resist these trends, which damage medical care.

“Medical schools have too often taught — actively, or passively by example — acquiescence to the increasing trends toward medicine as a business rather than teaching resistance to those trends in a manner consistent with medicine as a profession,” Dr. Wolfe wrote. “Medicine, as a profession, suffers, along with the simultaneous erosion of the doctor-patient relationship.”

Medical educators also should teach students and residents to resist the pervasive influences of the pharmaceutical industry, Wolfe said. Instead, current practices at universities and teaching hospitals bind clinical trials and publication of results to the biased industry, and far too much contact occurs between students and drug company representatives. Medical schools should teach resistance to the “free lunch” concept and encourage the use of public information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate newly emerging or older prescription drugs. Such sources often provide data concerning safety and efficacy that are never published or are published in distorted ways that favor the drug industry.

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