Saturday, July 31, 2010

Do We Really Need Dumber Doctors?

Anemoma Hartocollis has an article in the the NYT about Getting into Med School Without the Hard Sciences.

For generations of pre-med students, three things have been as certain as death and taxes: organic chemistry, physics and the Medical College Admission Test, known by its dread-inducing acronym, the MCAT.

So it came as a total shock to Elizabeth Adler when she discovered, through a singer in her favorite a cappella group at Brown University, that one of the nation’s top medical schools admits a small number of students every year who have skipped all three requirements.

Ms. Adler became one of the lucky few in one of the best kept secrets in the cutthroat world of medical school admissions, the Humanities and Medicine Program at the Mount Sinai medical school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Because when I need to see a doctor I will be really glad that they blew off the scientific foundations of their discipline in favor of varsity tennis and a world tour.

Among the current crop is Ms. Adler, 21, a senior at Brown studying global political economy and majoring in development studies.

Ms. Adler said she was inspired by her freshman study abroad in Africa. “I didn’t want to waste a class on physics, or waste a class on orgo,” she said. ...A classmate in the program, Kathryn Friedman, 21, graduated from the Chapin School in New York City, before going to Williams, ....The humanities program has allowed her to pursue other interests, like playing varsity tennis and going abroad, she said. When her pre-med classmates hear about the program, she said, “a lot of them are jealous.”

I used to teach physics for premeds, and I can testify that the amount of physics they were expected to absorb was extremely minimal. Organic chemistry is more of a challenge perhaps, but equally fundamental. If they aren't taking the MCAT I suppose they don't need to know any biology either.