Medical Students and Orthopedic Training

Medical schools and Orthopedic Residency programs are constantly trying to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and teaching techniques for our future practitioners. Having completed my Orthopedic surgical residency and further my spine fellowship during the transitional years, I was able to see both sides of the traditional method teaching (Pre-2003) and more contemporary styles of teaching (Post-2003).

Slight history – in 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) mandated that medical trainees be limited to an 80-hour work week schedule. Prior to 2003, medical trainees would essentially spend all day and all night, hence “residents”, to gain the necessary training that was required for their medical education, close clinical and patient contact, and overall experience. I remember when the work restrictions began and most attending physicians and seniors educators were worried about the possibility of the medical students and residents “not being prepared” for their clinical roles when the time came. I would have to admit, I was also worried about my training and whether I was going to be prepared when the time came to fly solo.

As I continue to take on more medical students for their elective rotations, I realize just how much has changed with technology, social media, simulation, and the formal aspects of medical training.

Many have argued that the best way to reach this new generation of medical trainees is through classical classroom learning techniques and powerpoint, but I often see the opposite. Let’s take for example the classic classroom learning with books, charts, tables, etc. The average medical trainee and resident no longer has to carry the pocket references of days past, hanging out of your pocket, and papers and pockets busting at the seams. The new millennium of students now, pull out their smart phones, press a few buttons, and have the entire book, case studies, and applications at their finger tips. Yesterday in fact, I was working with a student that wasn’t familiar with the lab tables for their progress notes but he was able to pull and recall all of the pertinent laboratory data for the past six years.

This isn’t even bringing up the debate of electronic medical records. Since the evolution of electronic medical records, the point and click method of documentation has easily overtaken the traditional method of writing your notes. This brought up a great discussion with the trainees’ faculty whether they are thinking through the process as to what they are clicking rather than all of the information being at their finger tips. Is this taking away the critical thinking required for the correct medical diagnosis? Overall, this improves patient care and clinical documentation but are we relying on this technology too much to make these life-changing, life-altering decisions?

Back to the major question, which method is the best way to educate our next generation of physicians? The short answer may very well be – All of the above!

Please see the articles listed below for more on the future of teaching medical students and residents.

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