A second year student has been coming to our office for over a year and is excited about a future taking care of cancer patients. She just completed the Hematology and Oncology section of lectures at the med school. I asked her how it went. “Frankly, “ she said, in the articulate way of the highly educated, “it sucked.”
I was astonished. How could such an exciting, complex and rapidly evolving field, yield teaching that would cause a motivated student to take such umbrage? Too much information? Too complex a topic? Too much difficulty in the exams? “No,” she said, it lacked “too” of anything.
It was not organized, not at the appropriate level, rambling and incomplete. Without reviewing the critical information in texts and online, she would have learned little and the entire class would have failed the subsequent tests.
In a huff, wanting to assure that we not lose a crop of budding oncologists, I swore to find the cause of this didactic discord. Surely, it must be possible to put together a set of clear, complete, cancer and blood lectures, so that the students were not only taught, but inspired. Somehow, we would fix those lagging lectures. But, then it occurred to me, why?
There are 141 medical schools in the United States, 2372 in the world. They teach 20,055 students in North America and hundreds of thousands around the globe. In every school, every state, and country, they all teach about cancer. In every school, cancer is the exact same disease. On every continent, the possible treatments are the same.
Therefore, why in the world do students listen to different lectures by different teachers on the exact same subject?
Why use the lecture hall format in medical school? Why not find a few super-experts to write one perfect lecture, and then record that lecture one perfect time, given by a brilliant, inspiring, articulate educator (with translations)?