Political and Reputational Capital, Part II
It does not take a rocket-scientist or a medical school dean to predict that the recent bad decision on pelvic exam training at the U of M would receive national attention.
"We looked at the cost-benefit ratio and didn't think it was worth it," said Sharon Allen, a professor of family medicine and community health who is course director of "Physician and Patient," the class where students get their first chance to interview and examine patients.
Though the change will probably save at least a few thousand dollars, Linda Perkowski, associate dean for curriculum and evaluation, said the decision wasn't purely a financial one. "Money is important but we would never decide something just based on money."
But those who got to perform the procedure on patients as second-year students worry that the students who follow them will miss out on a valuable experience.
Patty Dickmann, who is president of Minnesota's fourth year class, said the change is "unfortunate." Having the firsthand experience of examining a practice patient "significantly reduced the level of stress when performing my first pap smear" during her OB-GYN clerkship.
Another fourth year, John Thomas Egan, said he and his classmates consider the practice exam "an important learning tool, taking students who perhaps may never have been involved with any sort of intimate exam or touch and giving them this experience in a very safe space."
Other medical students voiced their concern to the campus newspaper, the Minnesota Daily. On Thursday, the paper published a letter from a non-medical student who said the curriculum change upset her as a patient. "In an era where women's bodies are continually objectified and encouraged to look more and more like a Barbie Doll, it is truly disturbing to see our bodies being literally replaced with plastic dolls in the training of the professionals who will care for our bodies," she wrote.
But however could we pay for this?
I suggest taking a look at the salaries of all administrators in the U of M medical school who have anything directly (or indirectly) to do with medical education. We also have the Deborah Powell Center for Women's Health. Would we be better off spending money on actual medical education or theoretical medical education? (That would be Med2010.)
Then of course we are spending money on so-called alternative medicine. The Director of Spirituality and Healing apparently believes in homeopathy.
Money for alternative medicine but not enough for real?