Finding a new way to skin the MCAT

The 2015 MCAT may cause students pain but will make better doctors.

by Cassandra Sundaram

Starting in 2015, pre-med students will have yet another obstacle to overcome in their quest to become quality physicians. The Medical College Admission Test âÄî better known as the MCAT âÄî will have a different format, including new sections on social and behavioral sciences. This test is the most grueling exam pre-med students face during their college careers. With the pending changes, the MCAT will only become more demanding, and exam time will increase to seven hours from five, as the Minnesota Daily reported in December.
The Association of American Medical Colleges website cites older and increasingly diverse patients as reasons for the change; the new MCAT hopes to better evaluate skills of medical student hopefuls in dealing with these challenges. These drastic changes may cause some students to groan about the added intensity of applying to medical school, but the modifications being made to the MCAT are appropriate and necessary.
While I commiserate with pre-med undergraduates trudging through a non-stop onslaught of heavy science courses, itâÄôs important to remember these studentsâÄô eventual goal is to become care providers. It is possible to be extremely intelligent, scientifically adept and still not be a good doctor; the importance of human interaction is downplayed in current pre-med courses.
The new MCAT format is a step towards fostering a more holistic approach to medicine. Behavioral science sections in the exam demonstrate that understanding psychological or emotional factors in a patientâÄôs illness is just as important as memorizing the pathology of the disease itself.
As the Hippocratic Oath states: âÄúI will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeonâÄôs knife or the chemistâÄôs drug âĦ I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being.âÄù

Cassandra Sundaram welcomes  comments at
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