Frequently Asked Questions Part Three
Q. What do you mean by saying that doctors are the third leading cause of death in the United States?
A. This statement is validated by the July 26, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 284. These deaths are due to errors made by doctors in the course of their treatment. Most often, these fatalities are the result of a doctor prescribing an inappropriate medication.
Q. Are you suggesting a college "medical major"?
A. No, I am suggesting a free, open system in which the student designs his own educational program.
Q. You state that there are a large number of non-profit websites on medical subjects authored by non-physicians. You also state that many of these sites are extremely information rich, and usually more substantive and accurate than the information provided by most physicians. Since anyone with basic HTML skills can create a medical website, how can the layman discriminate between valuable information and nonsense?
A. We are referring to illnesses that are somewhat outside of main stream medicine, such as chronic fatigue syndrome. In these cases it is frequently difficult for both doctors and non-physicians to distinguish which treatments are effective. Furthermore, when dealing with such an illness, everyone responds to treatment differently. In these instances, it is good to be part of a support or discussion group of patients who suffer from that particular condition. Such individuals will provide a lot of valuable input pertaining to treatment options, and will do so without financial motivation, and in an unbiased fashion. Often, these groups will contain some very scholarly people who have studied these medical conditions in depth and are good critical thinkers.
Q. You state that the root-cause of our current healthcare problems resides in our system of medical education. What are the first steps that need to be taken for us to revamp this flawed system?
A. Since the general public does not understand that our system of medical education is at the core of this dysfunction, we must educate them on this matter. We must also educate the existing army of healthcare reform activists, because this concept may be new to them. We need to help such activists focus on root causes, rather than vague symptoms. We need activists to focus on concrete solutions, rather than vague notions. We must pass regulations at the state level that will allow for the creation of an alternative pathway for becoming a doctor, a pathway that we have described. Once one state does this, the rest of the country will follow. It is likely that the rest of the world will follow our example.
Q. Isn't rote memorization crucial for a medical student to learn the huge volume of knowledge necessary to practice as a physician?
A. Please refer to our page on how memory works. It is difficult to memorize material from books or lecture notes, and even more difficult to retain that information for a long period of time. When the student is seeing live patients, face-to-face, he will read about illnesses and their treatments and associate this knowledge with actual patients. Not only is this a more natural and pleasant learning process, this association process is far more conducive to long term memory.