Why are doctors’ practices so ‘sophisticated’
A recent study by researchers at the University of Washington and the University at Albany in the US suggests that medical schools are in the midst of a transformation from a “crowded, unstructured” system to a “networked, tightly-organized” one.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, shows that the number of medical school graduates who graduated between 2001 and 2012 increased by nearly 300%, while those who completed their degrees between 2010 and 2014 increased by less than one per cent.
“This is a big deal,” said Dr Elizabeth Stacey, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of health systems at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“It’s been the case for a very long time now.
So it’s really important to understand what’s going on.”
The study focused on US medical schools.
Dr Stacey and her colleagues analysed data from the American Medical Student Health Survey (AMHS), a survey of about 20,000 medical school students and residents in the United States.
In 2001, more than half of the respondents were from the US.
But in 2012, that number was down to 37%.
“If you take that drop of people that came out of medical schools in the last decade and then take those same people that are graduating in the next decade and see if they have any impact on the workforce, that’s going to be a big concern,” Dr Stace said.
She said she thought the drop was related to a number of factors, including the number and diversity of residencies, the number-crunching process for applicants, and the increasing use of computerized assessments to screen applicants.
Dr Stacey said there was some overlap between the changes in medical school demographics and those in the workforce.
But she said it was not clear whether it was due to a decrease in the number or diversity of graduates, or to changes in the medical profession itself.
“It was just that there were a lot of new medical students who didn’t go into the residency program and who weren’t as well educated in those fields,” Dr Alisha Gossett, a PhD candidate at the UW, told Business Insider.
“They didn’t have the same education or training that other doctors had.
And they weren’t in the same cities as other doctors.”
Gossett and her colleague, Dr Jodi O’Malley, also from the UW and the US National Institutes of Health, analysed data on medical school enrollment from the National Center for Education Statistics.
They found that in 2011, more US graduates were enrolled in medical schools than in other areas of education.
But the number dropped sharply in 2012.
“What we found is that the numbers of graduates of all fields of education and medical school did not change dramatically,” Gossetts said.
“We found that only about half of those who graduated from medical school in the 2012-2013 period went on to earn a doctorate, compared to 60% of graduates in the 2001-2002 period.”
She said that could be due to the increased number of US graduates in other fields, such as dentistry.
Dr O’Brien agreed that the change in medical students was likely a result of the rise in medical education and residency, which is a major contributor to the workforce in the country.
“There’s an increasing demand for people with advanced degrees,” she said.
But Dr Stacys research also found that the US medical education system is not just the result of people who graduated in the previous decade.
“The data also indicates that the demand for these degrees is rising,” she added.
Dr Gossets research also looked at how different schools compare with one another.
She said that, overall, her research showed that there was a “slight” correlation between the number enrolled in the most recent medical school and the amount of time it took for graduates to complete their degrees.
“In other words, we found that for the most part, it’s a fairly consistent relationship,” she told Business Insider.
But there was one exception.
Dr Gossettes team also looked to what happens when medical school courses are broken up.
“One of the most significant findings was that in the 10 years between 2001-2011, there was an increase in the proportion of graduates who didn, in fact, complete their degree, but the proportion that didn’t complete their medical school degree declined,” she explained.
“And that’s consistent with the notion that people are choosing medical school because they’re interested in the profession and the profession is taking a bite out of the workforce.”
Dr Stacies team also found a correlation between medical school graduation and the size of a doctor’s teaching hospital.
“The average number of graduates that graduate from medical schools is roughly 1,000 to 1,500,” she wrote.
“In contrast, in a teaching hospital, that is 1,200 to 1.5,000.”
But what this also suggests is that, for many