Shannon Christian

In this weekly blog, staff reporter Shannon Christian writes about the myths of healthcare and how it impacts students.

Dr. Germ: fatal mistakes in the classroom

In normal conversation about the medical field, one overarching idea usually arises: joining in the field is a lot of pressure. This is in no way incorrect; however, the pressure does not just begin when visiting a patient and having their lives be placed in one’s care. In the current day and age, it is necessary to be as perfect as one can be from the start of one’s education. 

In clinical practice, there are bound to be mistakes made. Even as a CNA in training, I can attest to the fact that remembering every supply needed for a skill (was it three towels or four?) is something that not everyone masters immediately. Clinical training allows for one to make mistakes as it is almost impossible not to. The idea of perfectionism, and making little to no mistakes arises when examining the schooling process within medical education and the almost unreasonable requirements that it entails. 

In medical training, the courses a student is required to take include the obvious STEM-oriented classes such as Biology and Chemistry. Pre-medicine programs however also require a student to take courses such as Physics and Calculus, which are STEM-oriented, but are not very pertinent to a majority of medical careers. Courses such as physics and calculus also have a higher fail rate, failing grades being an indicator that a student is being “weeded out” of the pre-medicine track. 

The idea of “weeding out” students is a very common ideal that students and medical schools all over the nation uphold; the belief that a student who fails courses that aren’t even directly linked to clinical practice, are unfit to learn and practice medicine. While it may make sense to many that the nation’s future healthcare providers and doctors should be competent students who did well in their education, an isolated failing grade in an upper level STEM course should not be a fatal mistake that leads a student’s medical career to flatline. 

Medical schools should consider more of the clinical practice that students have performed, and highlight mastery within, or even the successes and passing grades in their major-specific courses such as Biology or clinical sciences. These attributes can be more indicative of how a student will perform in a clinical setting, and even how they will train to become a future medical professional. One mistake in a freshman year undergraduate course should not prevent a student’s medical career from flourishing. 

There is already immense pressure placed upon students entering the medical field. If the requirements for medical schools and clinical facilities are improved to better holistically and clinically consider the student, this can relieve some of the pressure of entering the field. Less pressure from the educational aspect of healthcare can also mean that students may be better able to shift their energies into facing the pressures of clinical practice and care. 

Especially in an age where the field of healthcare is growing, but the number of newly trained professionals is declining, the evaluation systems within clinical training facilities and medical schools should be reformed, acknowledging that mistakes are not always fatal. Throughout the 8-12 years that medical professionals complete, there is bound to be improvement and rectification of areas where there was lapses in knowledge, however a professional’s career should not be dependent on whether or not they passed or failed one class in their undergraduate year. This creates an impossible narrative for potential competent care providers from entering the field, which can become fatal. 

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