Clinicians vs. Physicians: A Broader View of Healthcare
by Zack Zimko

On almost every interview, a pre-medical student hears some variation on the most frightening words they can hear "What do you know about the politics surrounding medicine?" The student stares blankly at their interviewer and babbles out whatever they heard about medical care from an article they read in the school newspaper three months ago. Unfortunately, there seems to be a general deficit in knowledge outside of scientific specialties among both students and physicians. Until recently, physicians and medical students alike have avoided the politics and humanities intimately connected to medical practice. To correct this situation and the current healthcare crisis, the medical humanities minor along with current recruiting trends are focusing on amplifying awareness of the non-clinical aspects of medicine.

There is a growing movement in medical school recruitment to bring in students who not only have a solid foundation in the basic sciences, but who also are able to have an intelligent discussion on current topics in healthcare and patient interaction. During my interviews, I was frequently asked my opinion on a current debate in health care or my solution to a medical issue. Having taken courses in medical sociology as well as the politics of healthcare, it was easy for me to discuss the major issues in medical care. For many of my fellow pre medical students, this was not the case. I have been approached many times and asked to give an overview of our healthcare system. Such a lack of attention to healthcare politics and sociology could be a reason for our underrepresented physicians in health politics and a healthcare system run by officials with MBAs rather than MDs or DOs.

There has been an interesting trend in the US health system. The administration of healthcare has been taken over by non-medical professionals. It is my belief that this issue stems from the overly clinical education that pre-medical students receive, without any emphasis on medicine outside of the laboratory. This in turn leads to a general apathy towards anything outside of clinical medicine. We see doctors who turn a blind eye to the politics, which surround their medical system, and instead focus on their day-to-day activities as a physician. While this is good for patient care in the short term, it causes a far from ideal healthcare system in which all patients will eventually suffer.

Fortunately, a trend is rising from the ground up, which will hopefully reverse the current downward spiral of American Healthcare. Programs, like the University of Delaware's Medical Humanities Minor, are giving undergraduate students the chance to experience medicine outside of the core sciences. It allows pre-medical students to gain an appreciation for the field we are going into, and allows them to make informed decisions about how to proceed with their medical careers. For me personally, it provided a snapshot of modern medical politics and what the current healthcare debate is all about.

Programs like the Medical Humanities Minor are developing at the same time as medical school interviews are changing. The heavy emphasis on a pre-medical students ability to discuss medicine from a non-clinical prospective has become one of the fastest growing components of the medical school interview. Medical schools have discovered that while heavily science driven students make excellent clinicians, they tend to make poor physicians. The ability to see beyond the scope of a single patient and into the realm of nation wide health allows physicians to gain a better understanding of their patient and have greater knowledge to influence the non-clinical aspects of their career.