Changing the MCATs

So they’re thinking of changing the MCATs. A report of recommended revisions was recently released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The new MCATs would try to attract a wider range of medical school applicants by moving away from a science-centric exam to include more behavioral and social sciences and subjects such as philosophy, cross-cultural studies and population health.

My initial gut reaction was that I felt bad for the students who have to take this exam, just like how I felt bad for the students who had to take the new SATs. There would be more subjects to study for. And how do you prepare for a nation-wide exam that tests you on philosophy or cross-cultural studies? The methods and ideologies differ within these subjects. While people can generally agree on what a cell is, it’s much harder to agree on say how exactly Foucault plans on tackling biopower because he contradicts himself later in life.

I am, however, a proponent of changing the medical school admissions criteria. I argued in an earlier post, Social Science as a Premed Requirement, that the premed requirements are flawed, outdated, and generally not a good indicator of what it means to be a good doctor. I’m actually glad to see the AAMC taking these into account, knowing that the current system is flawed and that today’s medical students and practice of medicine require a different mindset and preparation.

Changing the MCATs is a step in the right direction, but more still needs to be done, whether it’s also changing the premed requirements or even the Step 1 Board Exam. With the rise of teamwork in medicine, patient-centered medical homes, global health, and a need for better health care delivery systems, I think that an emphasis on a more interdisciplinary and holistic medical education would benefit future physicians.

Check out the proposed changes here:


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