How an Innovative Program Could Change the Way Doctors Are Trained in the United States

MinnPost (06/04/18) Peters, Joey

Deborah Powell, the former dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School, has created an experimental project focused on replacing time-based medical education with a competency-based approach. Education in Pediatrics Across the Continuum (EPAC) allows faster learners to go through medical school and into a residency program in less time than four years. Across the four universities enrolled in the program, roughly 16 students participate in EPAC annually. In Minnesota, all 11 medical students who enrolled in the program in the past four years have graduated early, with some avoiding tens of thousands of dollars of student debt. An important aspect of EPAC is the volume of feedback students get from their preceptors, which can be time-consuming. Lisa Howley, the Association of American Medical Colleges' senior director of strategic initiatives and partnerships, says her organization is still waiting for more results before expanding the program further. "As to whether this can be applied to a class of 100 students, we don't know yet," she says. EPAC is also too new for any of the doctors enrolled in it to have finished residency and completed all of their board exams. However, Powell believes enough information has been generated to show the program can continue beyond the pilot stage. "My belief is that it's probably a more robust system of evaluating where students are to enter the second phase of their medical training," she said.

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