April 11, 2015

Key Lessons That Need To Be Taught In Med School Classrooms

A recent News Ok article states that Costa Rica is outperforming the United States in terms of health care and wellness.  How can that be when the United States spends more money on health care than any other country in the world?  Simple, Costa Rica is healthier. Their government spends more money than the U.S. on prevention and wellness.

The United States fails to focus on wellness and chronic disease management in many ways. For example, we don’t consistently control glucose levels in diabetics. This disease will then often go untreated until an emergency situation arises, such as a seizure, a stroke, or a heart attack.  In return, these individuals are then placed on medical disability, commonly resulting in a greater expense than the cost of the original health management. Another major chronic disease is coronary heart disease. Two of the most profitable prescriptions drugs in the U.S., are those that reduce blood cholesterol and prevent blood clots - both symptoms of coronary heart disease.  This raises the question, why spend more on prescriptions than on prevention?

UC Riverside School of Medicine (UCR), located in Southern California, first opened its doors in 2013.  Dean of UCR, Dr. G. Richard Olds, says, “This school was founded on the need for well-trained doctors…We also wanted to demonstrate that a health-care system that rewards keeping people healthy is better than one that rewards not treating people until they become terribly ill.”  The school places a large emphasis on wellness, prevention, chronic disease management, and finding ways to deliver health care in the most cost-effective setting.

Closely related to prevention is wellness.  Many health problems in the U.S. come as a result of self-infliction – smoking, drinking, eating an unhealthy diet, overeating, failure to exercise. An important part of a doctor’s job should be providing the patient with information about healthy eating, exercise, and harmful products; regardless of the behaviors they are currently exhibiting. To accomplish this shift in focus, future doctors must be taught to think with a preventative mentality, right from the beginning.  For that reason, it is vastly important that medical schools in the United States re-evaluate their teaching curriculum and their approach to heath and wellness.

UCR has the right approach in training this country to take a more proactive stance on health and wellness.  This is not a process that will happen overnight  but slowly, this approach could change the face of medical education in the United States on a grand level.

What is your medical school doing to teach students the importance of teaching their future patients about wellness and prevention?

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