The wave of woke medical education is gaining strength and will soon crash down on unsuspecting medical students. That’s the message of a recent Wall Street Journal editorial.
Three months ago, I wrote a post called The “Woke” Doctor’s Office which discussed the alarming Op-ed of Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a former associate dean of the curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Goldfarb reported his concern that healthcare is being infected by the radical ideology that has corrupted education and public safety. He said while critical race theory (CRT) and crime waves have been in the news, the public is largely unaware of medicine’s turn toward division and discrimination. He said the premise behind all this radical new thinking is that healthcare is systemically racist – that most physicians are biased and deliver worse care to minorities.
Now it seems Dr. Goldfarb’s comments were prescient. In their lead editorial, WSJ editors expose this woke thinking by those who have great influence over the curriculum in every medical school in America. They explain the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that represents and advises medical schools. It also has influence with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the national accreditor that sets med-school standards. With that kind of influence, when the AAMC tells med schools how to teach, America’s future physicians will be obliged to listen.
The AAMC expects aspiring doctors to become fluent in woke concepts such as “intersectionality,” which the AAMC defines as “overlapping systems of oppression and discrimination that communities face based on race, gender, ethnicity, ability, etc.” That means med students who managed to avoid learning CRT in college or high school will now get it shoved down their throats in medical school.
They will also be expected to demonstrate “knowledge of the intersectionality of a patient’s multiple identities” – not to be confused with personality disorders – and “how each identity may result in varied and multiple forms of oppression or privilege related to clinical decisions and practice.” WSJ suggests this sounds as if every medical diagnosis will have to be made with an accompanying political and sociological analysis.
All medical school students should be taught that black women are at higher risk for a type of breast cancer known as triple-negative and women of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage are at greater risk of the BRCA gene mutation. Naturally, Caucasian men and women are more susceptible to skin cancers, especially melanoma, than African-Americans and others of darker skin color. Oriental men and women are more prone to develop OPLL, a condition of the spine that leads to spinal stenosis. There are many other racial differences in prevalence of disease. While these differences in disease prevalence by race exist, this doesn’t mean these conditions are really about “systems of power, privileges, and oppression” in our society.
WSJ says, “Social and economic circumstances clearly can affect individual health behavior. But the hyper class and racial consciousness that the AAMC wants to instill in doctors may result in worse care for minorities. “Systems of oppression” as a standard of analysis could easily become medical fatalism. . . The implicit message is that the best way to help patients is to expand the size and scope of government.” Sounds like a message written by Senator Bernie Sanders and those who favor socialized medicine.
Most young people who pursue a career in medicine want to help patients. Now they will be taught that “an intricate web of social, behavioral, economic, and environmental factors, including access to quality education and housing, have greater influence on patients’ health than physicians do.” My concern is that such “woke medical education” may discourage the brightest of our youth from pursuing careers in medicine.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), the U.S. is facing a projected shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians in the next 12 years. Since training new physicians can take up to a decade, the urgency of this problem cannot be overstated. Yet changes in the medical school curriculum, as we have just discussed, could easily exacerbate this shortage as fewer qualified candidates apply to medical school.
The bottom line is that medicine is probably the least biased, racially influenced profession in the world. This is a solution in search of a problem – a solution that I predict will lead to worse healthcare – not better.