I applaud and agree with the concepts expressed in “Reform of Premed Education Under Way” [Yale Medicine, Winter 2009].
My own case in point: I went to Stanford as an undergraduate, majoring in biology and chemistry. I took organic chemistry as a freshman, and took two statistics courses and a general psychology course, all of which should be required. I wanted to take biochemistry, but was not allowed to, since I was a premedical student and would have the same course in medical school. I took virtually every other chemistry course offered, including the second-year/graduate biochemistry courses—17 chemistry courses in all.
I would wish to require the following courses or the equivalent knowledge for premedical students, in addition to the liberal arts components: general statistics, biochemistry, and psychology. My own experience of 40 years in practice has made me aware of the need to understand business principles and such diverse topics as cultural and religious viewpoints toward health. I presume that computer literacy is a given (I typed my M.D. thesis in 1960 on a portable typewriter over and over until I got it right).
As the article by Jennifer Kaylin suggests, it would be wonderful if there were some preparatory coursework for beginning medical students covering the wide scope of worldviews and personal interactions needed by caring and capable physicians. As an oncologist, I have developed productive and useful ways of dealing with terminal illness that are seldom shared with health care professionals. As Averill Liebow, M.D., told us in 1958, “You are students of medicine, not schoolboys.”
Malin Dollinger, M.D. ’60
Palos Verdes, Calif.