MedEdits | Medical School Admissions Consulting

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Cost of Medical Care: Teaching Medical Students and Residents

By Jessica Freedman,MD,

"How will the results of this test change your diagnosis or treatment?" This was a question I would routinely ask my medical students and residents when they presented their patient treatment plans. Unless they could provide a good reason that justified ordering the test, I typically advised them it was a waste of resources.

A great article in the New York Times discusses the importance of educating medical students and residents about treating patients while considering the cost of care. It also outlines what some medical schools are doing to better educate students about this issue. Yasmin Meah MD, a former colleague of mine from Mount Sinai, is quoted in this article and there is a corresponding video about the East Harlem Outreach Program (a Mount Sinai student-run free clinic) where she is interviewed.

Another aspect of this issue should also be considered, however. Sometimes patients insist on having certain tests ordered based on what they have read or heard on television. Many doctors find that, at times, it is easier to simply order a test they feel may be unnecessary, rather than try to convince a patient that the test is not needed.