With IOM Report and More, Medical Education Is a Hot Topic

Aug 12, 2014, 2:00 PM

A new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) criticizes an absence of transparency and accountability in the nation’s graduate medical education (GME) financing system, which was created in conjunction with the Medicare and Medicaid programs nearly five decades ago. The 21-member IOM committee behind the report says there is “an unquestionable imperative to assess and optimize the effectiveness of the public’s investment in GME,” and it recommends “significant changes to GME financing and governance to address current deficiencies and better shape the physician workforce for the future.”

Because the majority of public financing for GME comes from Medicare and is rooted in statutes and regulations from 1965 that don’t reflect the state of health care today, the committee’s recommendations include a modernization of payment methods to “reward performance, ensure accountability, and incentivize innovation in the content and financing of GME,” with a gradual phase-out of the current Medicare GME payment system.

Read the report, Graduate Medical Education That Meets the Nation’s Health Needs.

In other medical education news, the New York Times recently highlighted the growth of osteopathic medical schools, which now turn out nearly a quarter of all medical school graduates. According to the article, “medical schools are failing to keep pace with the patient population, and competition for careers in medicine is growing fiercer. More students see osteopathy as a sensible alternative to conventional medical school, a way to get a medical education with MCAT scores that may not make the cut for traditional medical schools.”

Another recent Times article, “The Drawn-Out Medical Degree,” looks at efforts to shorten the traditional four-year medical school curriculum. Advocates, according to the article, “say there are compelling reasons to speed up the process: to reduce the crushing debt many face by eliminating a year’s tuition and allowing doctors to start careers, and earn money, earlier.”

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.