Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New Course Prepares Students for Legal, Business Aspects of Medicine

Dr. Benjamin Estrada, professor of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine (right) talks with fourth-year medical students Corwin McGee and Caroline Miller.
Forty-five senior medical students at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently participated in transition to residency, a course designed to enhance students’ knowledge and skills to prepare for their upcoming residency training.

The course provides capstone information on topics such as medical economics, medical ethics, legal aspects of medical practice, basics of leadership and translational research during residency.

Dr. Estrada, assistant dean for medical education and professor of pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine, said the purpose of the course is to offer students information that they can utilize while developing their long-term educational, professional and financial goals.

“At the end of their fourth year, students are at a point in their professional development in which they have accumulated enough clinical experience and exposure to different clinical environments,” Dr. Estrada said. “This allows them to begin exploring legal and business aspects of the profession, as well as to begin the implementation of their leadership skills.”

Caroline Miller, a fourth-year student at the USA College of Medicine, said of all the topics covered in the course, she most enjoyed the law and medicine week. “A health law attorney walked us through the details of malpractice insurance and physician employee contracts,” she said. “After hearing these lectures, I have a better understanding of the liabilities we will face as physicians and how to protect against them.”

Dr. Estrada said most of the learning activities for this course include conferences and small group exercises held at the Strada Patient Care Center. Dr. John Marymont, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the USA College of Medicine, is among the lecturers providing expert advice. He recently gave a lecture to the senior medical students titled “Job Hunting - What to Ask and Know.”

During the lecture, Dr. Marymont discussed key aspects students should be aware of when searching for a job such as the nature of the group and opportunity, practice environment, contracting and financials.

“We have evolved this course to better equip our medical students with knowledge that extends beyond patient care to support the development of well-rounded students that are prepared to handle every aspect of their future training,” Dr. Marymont said.

The class started in 2014 by a recommendation from the USA College of Medicine curriculum committee. “The course has evolved over time based on faculty and student input following national trends,” Dr. Estrada said. “This year, with input from the medical school leadership and support from Dr. Marymont, additional emphasis has been placed on the business aspects of medicine. The course discussed topics such as searching for an optimal job, health care financing, medical practice management, physician compensation and patient-centered high value care.”

Miller said gaining an understanding of the practicalities of medicine and personal finance are beneficial at any point in one’s career. “The curriculum pushed me to start thinking about the choices I will need to make in the next several years and how those choices can potentially affect my long-term career and lifestyle,” she said.

Although the course is currently an elective, Dr. Estrada said the transition to residency course will be a requirement for all fourth-year medical students beginning in 2018.

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