A Century After Flexner

Abraham Flexner was not a physician, but his report, Medical education in the United States and Canada: a report to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching changed the way medical students learned. It professionalized training and standardized teaching practices.

One hundred years later, the Carnegie Foundation has released another report. Educating Physicians: A Call for Reform of Medical School and Residency calls anew for a close look at medical training. Since Flexner’s original recommendations, the field of health care has changed dramatically, though the way new M.D.s are taught has not.

The authors found several weaknesses in the current system:

  • Inflexible, excessively long training
  • Overly focused on inpatient clinical experience
  • Poor connections between formal knowledge and experiential learning
  • Inadequate opportunities to work with patients over time

At Boston University, a group of medical educators has formed a journal club to respond to the critiques in the new report. The state of graduate medical education has improved since 1910, but the centennial provides a symbolic opportunity to update the curriculum.


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