Medical students should mind the gap


Med students: are you learning how to do any of these things?

  • Lead a group of physicians through a change management process
  • Evaluate a health care system to see if it would be the right cultural fit for your career
  • Negotiate with executives for appropriation of resources for a clinical program
  • Leverage social media to create your personal brand
  • Resonate with patients to create patient engagement and customer loyalty
  • Manage populations of patients to achieve reliable clinical outcomes
  • Work with other health care professionals in cross-functional teams
  • Enjoy clinical work while maintaining work-life balance to avoid burnout
  • Work with a financial planner to evaluate which specialties in medicine will enable you to pay off your loans before age 50
MIND THE GAP - Epping [3/3] by christopher_brown, on Flickr

Why aren’t these skills being taught in medical school? Unfortunately, when educators attempt to add this material to the curriculum, they find there is not enough room for all the core requirements. As a result, coursework in the business aspects of medicine, patient experience, and social media management (if accepted as legitimate in the first place) often get relegated to the fourth year elective course catalog where it only reaches a handful of students. This material is important not just to thrive in medicine, but to survive the changing health care landscape. Physician burnout currently affects 45% of physicians. Two of the biggest reasons are lack of alignment with health system leadership and loss of autonomy. Awareness of these issues helps to ensure that medical students can guard against the stressors of working in an environment that evolves faster than the medical school curriculum refreshes. While many experience change as a negative, periods of disruption create opportunities to invent new ways to solve problems and to care for patients. Today’s medical students are clinicians and scientists, but they are also innovators, app designers, coders, social entrepreneurs, economists, and artists. What can be done if the medical school curricula cannot provide what they crave and need?

The Jefferson Physician Executive Leadership (PEL) program is a group of medical students who are dedicated to learning the real world aspects of medicine to thrive in the newly emerging health care environment. They are shaping the medical school culture at Jefferson and will shape the future of health care. PEL is a student-driven, student-led, and student-run organization that puts the needs of the students first. PEL is growing in its membership and in the resources it offers: lectures, workshops, blogs, and mentor support for innovative projects. How do you join? Just come with an open mind and a penchant for thinking differently. Who knows, you might just change the world.

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About The Author

Paul Rosen, MD is the faculty mentor for Physician Executive Leadership.


"MIND THE GAP - Epping [3/3]" (CC BY 2.0) by christopher_brown