You’re Just an MD ?

In previous blog posts, I’ve spoken of the changes that will occur in the whole field of medicine, in the years and decades to come. Certain specialties will literally evaporate. Other specialties will be fundamentally changed. It is my opinion that medical schools need to change the way in which they train the doctors of today. New MDs need to be adaptable to an ever-changing technological landscape. When computers can read x-rays and MRIs on their own, better than any human, radiologists  will need to adapt to this new reality and apply their skills in a different way.

I also believe that new specialties will arise. Imagine the following. A medical student completes their four years of study and receives an MD. An option exists to practice clinically for two years. The first year is based in the hospital and the second year is Community-Based. The intent of these two years is to give the physician a taste of multiple different specialties as they exist at that time. This training period is also intended to provide the new doctor with sufficient practical training so as to be able to work at an introductory level in a clinical environment.

But other options will be available to such physicians. Imagine now that there is a whole new residency called biomedicine. During the five years of residency training, the doctor will spend his or her mornings in formal study. The afternoons will be spent working on hands-on projects. At the end of these five years, the physician will have, for all intents and purposes, an engineering degree. In addition, the physician will have been a team member of a group that has spent the last five years developing solutions for various biological and medical needs. The intent here is for the doctor to have both clinical and hard science backgrounds, along with five years of experience, in order to be able to find a place within the technologically advanced reality of the time. The project that the doctor-resident was working on would likely be adaptable to a business opportunity. Perhaps along with a physician who did a five-year residency in finances, medically related business administration and development, the team would likely have a high chance of success either with their project from their residency, or in a totally new environment where they apply their skills to a new start up or an existing business.

One can think of any number of non-medical specialties that doctors could not only train in but flourish in and both contribute uniquely to the community as well as make a solid income. Many in the past have spoken of the need for individuals to study multiple areas, so that they have a greater likelihood of finding an interesting job with a good future. In this case, I am not talking about medicine, but any area of training. So the engineering student could study biology and the business student could study math [to develop better algorithms for analyses of businesses].

What happens though, to those who are not suited to further training? In this case, I am speaking about the building attendant who is replaced by software and robotics, as well as the radiologist  who is no longer needed for reading films because the computer does it far better. Can either of these individuals retrain in order to continue to be productive in their new reality? And if they can’t retrain, what then? Are they eventually found living on the street? Does the government step in and provide them with “busy” work just so that they don’t become part of a social crisis? There are people who are seriously working on plans to deal with such a future scenario. But as is typical for humans, it seems to be far easier to bury one’s head in the sand than to face an unpleasant future possibility.

There is an old Jewish joke that speaks of a gentleman who comes to the Rabbi to ask a question. The Rabbi’s wife informs the gentleman that the Rabbi is presently learning with a group of colleagues and will only be available in another 20 minutes. The gentleman retorts that he will not need to consult this Rabbi as he wants a Rabbi who already knows all the answers. In Jewish tradition, learning is something that is done every day for one’s entire life. There is no end to knowledge. This attitude will need to be adopted by everyone in the near future. The idea of “finishing school” will be replaced with the concept of having completed “phase 1” of one’s lifetime education. With such an attitude, everyone will stand a far better chance of quickly learning a new subject and new skills, as needed. As long as the mind is never allowed to become lazy, it will actually thirst for more and more knowledge. This will unquestionably be a tremendous asset to people in the near future. a people that never stops learning is a people that never stops searching for solutions. When the majority of the world is searching for the needed solutions of the time, we will experience miracles on a daily basis.

Thanks for listening

About the Author
Dr. Nahum Kovalski received his bachelor's of science in computer science and his medical degree in Canada. He came to Israel in 1991 and married his wife of 22 years in 1992. He has 3 amazing children and has lived in Jerusalem since making Aliyah. Dr. Kovalski was with TEREM Emergency Medical Services for 21 years until June of 2014, and is now a private consultant on medicine and technology.
Related Topics
Related Posts