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INTRODUCTION

When one of my preceptors is running behind schedule during clinic hours he always pokes his head in the exam rooms of the patients who are waiting and apologizes for their wait. He also tells them that he hasn’t forgotten about them and that he will be there to see them as soon as possible. I think that this is a great way to show respect for patients and their schedules and it helps prevent them from becoming angry and frustrated. This is a habit that I will definitely adopt when I am a physician.

Third-year medical student

One of my fellow students and I were on duty when there was a code called overhead. Everyone ran to assist in the code and the student was asked if she wanted to participate. This is something very neat for a third year because we never get to do that. However, the student spotted the wife of the coding patient at the end of the hall standing by herself with no one to comfort her. So instead of going to help in the code, the student went to talk to the patient’s wife and explain to her what was going on. I thought that was very caring because no one else even noticed the wife standing there, and sometimes we get caught up in the chance to do something medical and forget about the families.

Third-year medical student

Today it is widely recognized that health and wellness, promoting behavior change, and addressing disease states can only be accomplished through the delivery of high-quality patient care built on a foundation of knowledge and abilities in the basic, clinical, and behavioral and social sciences. Social and behavioral factors are estimated to contribute to more than half of all causes of disease and death in the United States, including cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and type II diabetes. Knowledge of the complex behavioral, social, and psychological contributors to disease has important implications for clinical practice and physician education, both formal and informal. Physicians must understand these factors and their interrelationships, and be able to apply this knowledge in the care of patients to optimize individual, local community, and national health outcomes and enhance their own sense of well-being and personal and professional growth, while reducing feelings of cynicism and burnout.

Although most health training programs have increased behavioral and social science-related content throughout their curriculum, many behavioral and social science curricula remain fragmented, incomplete, and marginalized. Emphasis on formal curricular development may also overlook the importance of the informal curriculum (or learning environment)—the influence of physician and resident modeling of behaviors and attitudes on professional identity formation and practice patterns. Therefore, educators must be attentive to both influences in the preclinical and clinical years of student education and its impact on student attitudes toward the ...

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