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AAMC/HHMI Committee Defines Scientific Competencies for Future Physicians

Input from Einstein faculty helps shape new blueprint for school curricula.

June 4, 2009 - (BRONX, NY) - A new report, issued today by an expert committee convened by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), for the first time defines scientific competencies for future medical school graduates and for undergraduate students who want to pursue a career in medicine. Paul R. Marantz, M.D., M.P.H., a faculty member at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, was a member of the committee and helped shape the guidelines.  

Paul Marantz, M.D.
Paul Marantz, M.D.
"Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians" recommends that medical and premedical education evolve from a static listing of courses to a dynamic set of competencies.  The 22 committee members believe that this fundamental change will encourage the development of innovative and interdisciplinary science curricula, maintain scientific rigor, and allow premed students at the undergraduate level the flexibility to pursue a strong liberal arts education. The new report is the subject of an editorial in the June 5th issue of Science magazine.

"It was a pleasure to serve with this group of colleagues interested in educating physicians who will routinely apply scientific reasoning and the scientific method in their practice," said Dr. Marantz. "We're about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Flexner report, which established an approach to science education in premedical and medical curricula that has changed little over the years.  Given the dramatic changes in medical science over the last century, it makes great sense to take a fresh look at our teaching. This report's focus on 'competencies,' rather than prescribing specific courses, is a great way to start the conversation." Dr. Marantz is associate dean for clinical research education; professor of clinical epidemiology and population health and of clinical medicine; co-director of the Institute for Public Health of Yeshiva University; and associate director of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

The report's findings will be considered, along with other initiatives, in the AAMC's comprehensive review of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which is currently underway.  Expected to be completed by 2012, the review will assess the test's current content and recommend changes that are likely to increase its usefulness to the medical school admissions process. In addition, a separate report on the behavioral and social science competencies for future physicians is expected in late 2010; Dr. Marantz is a member of that panel as well.

Press Release issued by AAMC and HHMI

AAMC/HHMI report, "Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians"