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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 high-quality patient care is 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. Growing 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 health outcomes as well as to equip them with the skills that promote their own sense of well-being, foster lifelong personal and professional growth, and decrease feelings of cynicism and burnout.

Whereas many health training programs have incorporated behavioral and social science content into their formal education, many curricula remain fragmented, incomplete, and marginalized. Emphasis on formal curricular development may also overlook the importance of the informal curriculum (or learning environment)—the physician and resident modeling of behaviors and attitudes that medical students experience every day. Therefore, educators must be attentive to both influences on student education. Using current theories of learning, this chapter illustrates innovative educational methods that integrate the formal and informal curricula to effectively teach social and behavioral science (SBS).



The IOM report, Improving Medical ...

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