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Reform of Continuing Medical Education: Investments in Physician Human Capital

Eric G. Campbell, PhD, Meredith Rosenthal, PhD

Publication type: Grantee Publication

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In 1910, Flexner published a scathing indictment of undergraduate medical education at the time.1 The Flexner report demanded reform of medical education, arguing that it should consist of rigorous preclinical education and supervised clinical training in hospitals and be isolated from commercialism. The report established the current system of undergraduate medical education.1

A century later, another component of the continuum of medical education requires equally sweeping reform—continuing medical education (CME). Continuing medical education exhibits failures that parallel those defined in the Flexner report. If CME became a productive means of investing in physician human capital and if physicians could appropriate the returns to that capital, the profession would demand CME of an entirely different character. Furthermore, CME should apply new knowledge and skills that directly benefit patient and societal outcomes (ie, providing high-quality, efficient, and cost-effective care)—domains that have not been the traditional . . .

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