For generations, hospitals have been the driving force behind healthcare education. Whether we are talking about training the next generation of doctors or preparing individuals for careers in educator training, academic programs have traditionally been the domain of university-affiliated hospitals. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says this needs to change.
The AAFP says that hospitals must always remain part of the training equation. However, they should no longer be the driving force behind it. The organization’s rationale is the apparent need for a new system that provides proper training that not only prepares the next generation of healthcare professionals to properly serve patients, but also one that is cost-effective and efficient. The current educational system is a 50-year-old dinosaur whose time has come and gone.
In arguing their case, that AAFP pointed out that the current system does a fine job in training specialists in many different areas, while at the same time failing to produce enough general practitioners and family physicians to meet demand. They argue that the current system has been so successful in accomplishing what it was designed for that the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. They believe the emphasis on healthcare education needs to swing back to a more balanced position.
A Shortage of Educators
The most ironic part of the AAFP position is that the field of general practice is not the only field that has suffered over the last several decades. Healthcare education, as a career choice, has also been in decline. The current shortage of professionals to fill all of the educator training positions means universities and nursing programs are going severely understaffed. Without enough educators, it is impossible to produce enough graduates to keep up with the expanding healthcare sector.
If healthcare education is to swing back toward a more balanced position, a greater concentration needs to be on educator training alongside general medicine. There needs to be a greater emphasis on finding the next generation of educators who will be training our nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals. Without enough educators, any reforms made to the current system will be limited in their benefit.
Educator Training Jobs
Evidence of the lack of healthcare educators is easily seen by searching any healthcare jobs board. Alongside the multiple pleas for doctors and nurses, schools are in desperate need of teachers. Making matters more complicated is the fact that educator-training positions require individuals to be fully trained and licensed in their own fields before they can educate others. This is not a bad thing, but it does make it more difficult to convince a registered nurse, for example, to become an educator when he or she could earn more money in direct patient care.
The same can be said for doctors who spend years in medical school, gaining knowledge and eventually completing residency. How many of them want to go into education when other opportunities abound? Apparently, not enough. Any reform of the current education system has to take this into account.
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