CHICAGO — The success of efforts to reinvent the medical education process will depend strongly on medical students participating in the transformed education process.

At the American Medical Association 2015 Annual Meeting in Chicago, a session on the AMA's $11 million "Accelerating Change in Medical Education" initiative highlighted the success stories of the medical schools participating in the effort. Panelists described how the initiative went from an idea to action, and now its leaders are trying to figure out how to measure progress.

They essentially are trying to create a prototype of the medical school of the future, said George Mejicano, M.D., senior associate dean for education, School of Medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University, a grant recipient. "The 11 schools are doing phenomenal work."


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Among the innovations taking place as part of the program is a virtual health care system at the Indiana University School of Medicine that also includes a teaching electronic medical record. The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine is collaborating with health system leaders in its redesigned educational experience, which includes sending med students out to be trained as patient navigators. And the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University plans to add a Master of Science degree in population medicine.

The event also underscored how doctors in training may be one of the best sources of innovation in care. Residents are also the target of work to reduce excessive burnout among their ranks..

David Savage, a medical student on the initiative's advisory panel, described how students under the current educational system are "blindsided" by the realities of the health care system. Savage praised schools that are focusing more on teaching leadership, deemphasizing grades and emphasizing learning and discovery. Students need to be able to focus on more than just the test. Savage noted that at the University of Michigan Medical School, "students were involved in every aspect of the redesign."

Attendee and former AMA President Peter Carmel, M.D., and director, Neurological Institute of New Jersey, also endorsed great reliance on the medical students in redesigning the educational system. "The students are incredible drivers of innovation," Carmel said in the Q&A session. "Medical education is too important to leave in the hands of deans," he said.