I’ve recently been introduced to the blog of Dr. Kevin Pho “KevinMD.” It’s a top-notch site and I’ll be working on a link-exchange soon. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy reading a couple of entries from the blog that give a quick introduction to how physicians are trained in China and France. You’ll learn, for instance, that the Chinese head to medical school straight after high school, and that they aren’t required to complete residency training. You’ll also learn that the French complete medical training in three cycles spanning roughly 8 to 10 years (depending on specialty) and that they do so while amassing almost zero debt, because the government heavily subsidizes medical education. This means French physicians don’t face the same financial incentives that American physicians do when they decide between primary care and other specialties.
We talk a lot about technology, insurance, payment of physicians, and other elements of the health care system when we talk about reform, but I think we often don’t back up far enough. Health care providers are the building blocks of the health care system, and they are created through health professional education. If we keep churning out doctors the same way we always have, the basic infrastructure of our health care system will remain unchanged. Translation: Real health reform is likely to require new approaches to medical education.