PHILADELPHIA — Students graduating from U.S. medical schools in 2012 feel they’ve received a better education in health policy issues than graduates surveyed in 2008, according to a multi-center study led by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and published online this month in Academic Medicine. The study applied a new framework for teaching and evaluating perceptions of training in health policy, first proposed by the authors in a 2011 perspective published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Our prior work found that for nearly a decade, more than 50 percent of graduating medical students were not satisfied with their training in health policy,” said lead author Mitesh S. Patel, MD, MBA, MS, a General Internal Medicine physician and a recent graduate of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Penn. “Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, we found new signs of improvement in perceptions in 2011-2012, but 40 percent still report inadequate training. Education in health policy provides future physicians with training in fundamental concepts that will help them to adopt and incorporate new policy changes into their medical-decision making practices that will ultimately impact patient care.”
Drawing on data from nearly 53,000 respondents to the Association of American Medical Colleges Medical School Graduation Questionnaire, the study assessed medical students’ perceptions of their education in 13 topics assigned to four “domains” of health policy: systems and principles, quality and safety, value and equity, politics and law. Students reported their training in these areas as “appropriate” or “inadequate.”
The study found relative improvements in three of the domains: 11.7 percent in appropriate education of “systems and principles,” 6.3 percent for education in “value and equity,” and a 2.8 percent increase in “quality and safety.” The domain “politics and law” had a relative decline of 4.8 percent which was mostly due to perceptions of inadequate training related to medical licensure and regulation.
“We could not assess in this study whether these changes represent improvements in medical school curricula or increased exposure to broader national discussions regarding health policy,” said Dr. Patel. “However, it is clear that we have a significant opportunity to impact the training of our future physician workforce by focusing on continuing to improve education in topics related to health policy.”
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.