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Building a better doctor

David RosenmanFeatured in FierceHealthcare’s “9 People to Watch in Healthcare,” David Rosenman, SF ’12, is changing the system one doctor at a time. Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Founding Director of the Preclinical Block at the Mayo Medical School, Rosenman is creating a new breed of physicians who are well rounded and patient-centered—as adept at communication as they are at diagnosis.

Rosenman oversees the preclinical block, a transition course for medical students that takes place at the very midpoint of their medical school experience, that all-important segue between the first two preclinical and second two clinical years. The Mayo Clinic’s preclinical block is the longest and most comprehensive in medical education, spanning the breadth of healthcare—pediatrics, surgery, internal medicine, and a dozen other specialties.

Rosenman gives his students insights into new models of care, emerging technologies, and nontraditional medical school lessons about the realities of caring for patients in the 21st century. “Students at Mayo focus on topics that in real life are key to healthcare but are often absent from formal medical curricula—issues like intercultural and collaborative communication, leadership, even love. And thanks to my experience at MIT, I am looking to integrate system dynamics into the course as well.”

Integrating humility into the med school curriculum

Rosenman is keen on keeping the methodology innovative, too. This year, he and his colleagues are exploring ways in which parts of the preclinical block can be “flipped” in the manner proposed by MIT Alumnus Sal Khan, who was the speaker at Rosenman’s MIT graduation. Khan believes that students might be able to concentrate better while listening to lectures at home on video, rewinding and reviewing as needed, while dynamic project-based learning could take place at school with classmates.

Rosenman also “flips” the student’s perspective about what’s important. “Regarding humility, we tell students, ‘best to start now.’ There is some irony in the fact that the medical school application process invites and rewards evidence of personal and individual accomplishment, but the day medical students set foot into a clinical setting— especially at Mayo Clinic—the weight of these qualities takes a back seat to humility.”

Rosenman says that biomedical acumen is a critical prerequisite to being an excellent clinician, but it will get doctors only so far. “We tell students that they’ve chosen a profession of service and that they soon will be spending the better part of each day out in the world providing that service. As long as they remember to take care of themselves, a thoughtful awareness of others will go a long, long way.”

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