For third-year Dell student Anatoli Berezovsky, the experience has solidified his intent to pursue family medicine instead of oncology, his initial choice for a specialty. “It was cool for me to see that family medicine is more than just diabetes and high blood pressure—you can help your patients in other ways,” he said.
Hackensack Meridian also hastened when students are exposed to clinical experiences, but with a slightly different twist—offering an option to graduate in three years instead of the traditional four.
Like Dell, Hackensack Meridian students begin their clinical clerkships in their second year.
Stanton said the three-year graduation has a dual benefit: to reduce education debt and entice more students to pursue residency at the affiliated health system, Hackensack Meridian Health. New Jersey, like many states, is facing a shortage of physicians.
The idea is that the students will be interested in staying at Hackensack’s health system, which has 13 hospitals, for residency because they are familiar with the organization. Third-year graduating students also won’t have as much time to seek out many other residency options. A big chunk of the fourth year is usually dedicated to that time-consuming, stressful process.
“We feel that the students who are going to do a residency program here in New Jersey will be more likely to stay in New Jersey to practice medicine,” Stanton added.
Some medical schools are offering courses that go beyond medicine.
The doctors of the future will need “other tools” in their bag, said Dr. Bon Ku, assistant dean at Sidney Kimmel Medical College.
The medical school implemented a component called the scholarly inquiry track in which students select one of eight disciplines they are going to pursue throughout the four years separate from medicine, such as population health research and digital health.
One of the disciplines, design, teaches students to flex a muscle they don’t usually get to in medical school: creativity.
“There is an under-representation for the skill of creativity in medicine,” Ku said. “We need doctors who not only have the technical skills but also who can be creative.”
Students choose the track they want to pursue in their first year and about 25 students per class are in the design track. They learn design principles like architecture and systems engineering and then how to apply them to common problems in healthcare.