An innovative series of classes and seminars at UC Davis School of Medicine that includes topics such as doctor-patient communication, ethics, clinical reasoning and end-of-life care was honored recently by the National Academies of Practice with its 2005 Interdisciplinary Creativity in Practice and Education Award.
The Doctoring program, a broad-based effort to create more small-group, interdisciplinary active learning opportunities for students and to expose them to more aspects associated with being a physician, was created by Michael S. Wilkes, vice dean of medical education for the UC Davis School of Medicine, while he was at UCLA. Wilkes brought the program to UC Davis in 2001. It has since become a model for schools nationally and internationally.
One of the first efforts of the program at UC Davis included a mock malpractice trial at the Sacramento County Courthouse, complete with practicing attorneys, medical witnesses and a retired judge. Students first analyzed a case in small groups, and then witnessed a trial of a physician accused of negligence after his patient became paralyzed from a cerebral hemorrhage. The trial brought to life issues of doctor-patient communication, the medical/legal system, and how to deal with patients who suffer adverse outcomes.
"In the past, medical education has focused on books, cells and organisms of the body, often at the expense of achieving a better understanding of patients, the population and society. The Doctoring curriculum is our attempt to give significant weight to these other important aspects of being a doctor," Wilkes said.
Topics such as domestic violence, substance abuse, clinical decision-making and how to break bad news, receive greater attention. The courses are almost all taught in small groups using "standardized patients," actors who portray patients in various scenarios to help students learn how to deal with different situations.
The National Academies of Practice, which recognized the Doctoring program, was founded in 1981 in recognition of the need for interdisciplinary collaboration in health care. Based in Edgewood, Md., the organization is comprised of practitioners and scholars from dentistry, nursing, optometry, osteopathic medicine, medicine, psychology, podiatric medicine, social work, veterinary medicine, and pharmacy.
The Interdisciplinary Creativity in Practice and Education Award is presented annually to individuals who have made enduring contributions to interdisciplinary practice and education.
Wilkes shares the award with UCLA emergency medicine physician Jerome Hoffman, co-creator of the program.