New Exam for med students: Peer review
The ratings can flag habits that make for bad doctors
By Dawn Fallik (http://go.philly.com/askdawn)
The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 4, 2005, page 1 (excerpts)
Spurred on by malpractice cases, increasing patient loads, and a new national "bedside manner" exam, medical schools are trying to find new ways to weed out bad doctors and teach the ones they have to survive in a new medical world.
Anonymous peer review is a way to get a glimpse into personality quirks - like continual lateness or callous behavior - that could be addressed in school. Dr. Ron Epstein, an associate dean at the University of Rochester School of Medicine who helped create one of the first surveys, says: "In the culture of medicine, errors tend to be covered up and personality problems tend to be ignored."
Counseling now could help catch the worse offenders later. A 2004 study of 68 former medical students at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), who faced disciplinary actions in the state found that many had received comments about unprofessional behavior at medical school.
A spokeswoman from the American Association of Medical Colleges said many schools have peer evaluations at the resident level, but only a few are doing so in the early years. Drexel University is one of the handful, along with the University of Rochester and the Indiana University School of Medicine. The way the schools handle the responses varies. At Rochester, each student discusses his reviews with a mentor. At Drexel, only those who receive comments at the very positive or very negative end of the scale hear about it.
Donna Russo, an associate dean at Drexel said: "Often students are stunned. They didn't realize how their behavior affected others. And they immediately change that behavior." So far, most of the peer comments have been about a lack of attendance, or dominating a group instead of letting everyone have a chance. Drexel microbiology professor Larson summed up: "We want to create physicians who are good with their patients, and the peer evaluations (help). It's such a team-based career."
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