How COVID-19 is changing medical schools, according to UCSF dean

Medical educators are changing their curriculum to reflect COVID-19’s impact on workforce shortages and the need for various clinicians, Catherine Lucey, MD, professor and vice dean for education at the University of California San Francisco Medical School, said in a Jan. 2 interview with NPR.


Dr. Lucey said the pandemic has ushered in increased advocacy from all levels of government for stronger public health infrastructure.

"I think a big issue is not only the interpersonal cultural humility that is needed to teach our residents and our students, but the social advocacy for better social systems that would eliminate the need for a catch-up during situations of pandemic," Dr. Lucey said. 

Current medical curriculum is not equipped to teach residents and students how to deal with skepticism, as Dr. Lucey said the wave of skepticism, specifically regarding vaccines, in the pandemic "took people by surprise." 

"This idea of, trust me, I'm your doctor, I think we can no longer take for granted," Dr. Lucey said. "Trust has to be earned. And I think what we see in today's environment is that people are trusting individuals who they think relate to them better and have more respect for them. And I think we, as physicians, need to recognize the challenge in front of us."

Dr. Lucey added one of the current conversations in the medical education circles is the need to establish a national workforce plan for physicians. 

"We need a structure that engineers a system that guarantees that everyone in the United States, regardless of where they live or who they know or what power or privilege they have, has access to the type of a physician that we'd choose to care for somebody that we loved," she said. "We don't have that yet."


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