First IT-savvy med students graduate under pioneering AMA program

The first graduating classes from some of the 32 medical schools to participate in the American Medical Association's pioneering curriculum modernization initiative are now ready to take their tech savvy to hospitals and practices nationwide.

Medical students from NYU, Indiana University, East Carolina University, Oregon Health and Science University and Penn State graduate this month as part of AMA's Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium.

ACME was launched back in 2013 with the goal of helping "close gaps in readiness for practice," said Susan Skochelak, MD, group vice president of medical education at AMA, aiming to educate students in the information technology, techniques and value-based philosophies that have come to define healthcare in the 21st Century.

At the time, a recent poll had shown that only 64 percent of medical school programs even allowed students to get hands-on experience with electronic health records.

"When you talk to people who are hiring in the major health systems or you talk to graduates, what they'll say is they really are not prepared. They don't know how to manage panels of patients; they don't fully even necessarily know what to do with an EHR," Skochelak told Healthcare IT News at the time.

Mayo Medical School, UC Davis School of Medicine and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University were among the first organizations to sign on to the initiative. Two years later, AMA added 20 new medical schools to ACME, tripling its size.

This past year AMA partnered with the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine to launch an EHR training program for med students: the EHR Clinical Learning Platform, billed as the first of its kind, uses actual data from patients at Indianapolis-based Eskenazi Health, enabling students to more realistically care for virtual patients as they familiarize themselves with EHR workflows.

Not learning how to document in the EHR during university training "comparable to a physician graduating from medical school without learning how to properly use a stethoscope," said Skochelak.

Beyond the teaching EHR system, other innovations from the consortium include competency-based programs, curricula allowing students to be totally immersed within the health care system from day one of medical school, training in physician leadership, education in team care skills, and curricula aimed at achieving health equity and increasing diversity in the physician workforce.

Through the ACME Consortium, AMA also developed what it calls the Health Systems Science textbook, aimed at helping students think about care delivery in terms of quality improvement, patient safety, accountable population health management, social determinants of health and beyond. The textbook is currently being used in 14 medical schools across the country.

Now, five years since it was first dreamed up, the first of those students are graduating from some of the ACME Consortium's 32 schools, which have developed innovative curricula using $12.5 million in grants from AMA.

All told, some 19,000 medical students are studying under the technology-intensive programs, and will eventually care for 33 million patients nationwide.

"These future physicians will be better equipped to provide care in a practice environment of rapid progress, new technology and changing expectations both from government and society —directly impacting the way health care is delivered nationwide," said AMA CEO James Madara, MD.

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