“We look for a story.” U. Chicago Medical School Provost

I was so impressed by Dr. William McDade’s compelling presentation to Emory college students yesterday. Dr. McDade is an MD, PhD, and serves as Deputy Provost for Research and Minority Issues and Associate Professor of Anesthesia & Critical Care at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. I hope the students in the audience heard him clear and loud. “We look for a story,” he said. Pritzker looks beyond grades to find the human in the numbers. “We want to hear, what makes you remarkable?” Like every other school, when they are trying to “make the class”, they have a strong focus on diversity. “Diversity breeds excellence.” he went on to say. If I was a premed, I would listen.

Very specifically and very clearly, Dr. McDade told the students in the room that he sees students taking the most rigorous science courses they can find in an effort to impress admissions committees. While that is good, he adds, “Don’t go crazy. Take the premed core and do something else. Learn about compassion, ethics, literature. Learn how to relate to people.” One significant competency needed by successful physicians is collaboration skills and Dr. McDade emphasized the need for college students to develop this skill. “Learn how to be in a team.”

Don’t you see this as another definitive vote of support for significant role of a liberal arts education in preparing future physicians? Is this not another argument for why we want our premeds, our future physicians to be, not only able to handle the science, but also have learned about being human through intellectual engagement with subjects like ethics, philosophy, history and experiential encounters that build the skills of compassion, collaboration and caring? Premeds, are you listening?

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About Preetha Ram

I am an educator (Dean for PreHealth and Science Education at Emory), social entrepreneur (Cofounder of OpenStudy, a global study group to connect learners) and visionary (let's build a classroom for the world to study together). A chemist by training (Yale), I like to solve problems by building bridges at the edges and interstices of disciplinary boundaries.

Posted on January 22, 2011, in Pre-Health, Science Education. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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