Help The Boards Find Their Google Glasses

steve-martin-the-jerk-glassesI had a look at the first electronic version of Iowa Medicine, the Journal of the Iowa Medical Society (IMS). The story that caught my eye was written by Dr. J.D. Polk, DO, “The Future of Medical Education.” It made me think that we need to help medical specialty certification board members find their Google Glasses.

Dr. Polk’s article is about how fast medical education is changing and the way medical students learn these days is far different than when I was a sprout.

He talks about the old days when medical students relied on a note service for access to lectures. I remember our note service and volunteered for it once, after I wrestled with my ambivalence about it. Like everybody else, I came from the competitive every-man-for-himself pre-med environment where you took your own notes.

Medical school was a lot different. There were still “gunners,” meaning those who carried clicker pens with different color inks for taking copious highlighted notes and aimed for Honors level achievement in an essentially Pass/Fail system.

But the volume of content was phenomenal, most of it in the brute memorization category. We needed to work together.

And what the heck is this Google Glass Visor Polk talks about? In the digital age, you would think that the boards who perpetrate Maintenance of Certification (MOC) with secure exams every 2-10 years would be aware of this level of point of access learning.

Polk says “Students will still need the foundation of the basic sciences, but the days of gorging on a ton of minutia [sic] and regurgitating it for the test are numbered.”

I wish Dr. Polk would please tell that to the specialty certification boards who inflict just exactly that on diplomates who must sit for MOC exams to regurgitate minutiae which is not relevant to their subspecialty.

According to Polk, “It has been said that the half-life of medicine is five years, which means that 50% of everything we know in medicine right now will be obsolete or outdated in five years.”

What better argument could you make for throwing out the Part IV Performance in Practice (PIP) module for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) MOC? What better argument against sitting for a closed-book exam every 10 years in a room monitored by invigilators armed with chocolate diamond studded tasers poised to zap you if you look left or right from your monitor?

Doctors don’t learn chiefly by memorization nowadays, yet that’s exactly what’s still expected for MOC practice improvement modules and for recertification exams.

Do you really want your doctor to rely on memory, especially if your doctor is a geezer? Would you be more comfortable with a primary care doctor who can download the Suicide Safe App and learn in minutes how to conduct a suicide risk assessment? It even has contact information for local mental health centers. I know; I just installed it on my iPAD.

Keeping up with medical knowledge content which changes so quickly is a daily challenge and neither doctors nor their patients have the time or patience for the time-wasting utter nonsense of MOC.

Geezer GrinNow I don’t know about you but I have to get back to work–just as soon as I find my Google glasses.