Our medical system is based on the tenant of curing disease, of essentially getting patients well enough to leave the hospital. And “curing disease” has given us chemotherapeutic medications, prevented long term complications from sudden health events and saved an enormous number of lives through trauma care and surgery. The idea of prevention has not been central to care to most, the exception being children where preventative care has always been a fundamental theme. The shift from illness to wellness will be difficult for those trained in traditional, “curative” medicine. The P4 Scholars program hopes to help change how we train the next generation of physicians and allied healthcare providers: to focus on wellness and prevention while maintaining the importance of treatment.
The P4 Scholars program commenced this summer (2011) and lasts seven weeks. More than 20 students were chosen from Ohio State’s Medical School Class of 2014 to be the inaugural class. We want to expose the students to the practice of P4 Medicine – predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory medicine – and, more importantly, to think about how they would integrate this approach into their own future practice. Some aspects of this program will be an expansion of basic concepts that they have already learned, while others will be in the “art of medicine” – how to get patients involved in their own health care (a concept called shared decision making) and how to change those behaviors that will in the long term adversely affect them. The hope is to expand this program to other schools on the Ohio State campus, such as pharmacy and nursing, as well as to integrate some of the concepts into the new medical school curriculum, beginning in 2012.
The new medical school curriculum will be part of this seismic shift in ideas of health care. Students will have clinical exposure from their first months in medical school and will have more continuity within the curriculum. Modules will traverse all four years and concepts will be introduced, reinforced and then practiced in the real world setting. Many teams of multi-disciplinary health professionals are guiding each part of curriculum development to make the program more encompassing and fluid. Students will still get a thorough education in medical care, but supplemented with a more personalized approach to accelerate self-directed learning into the student’s interests. Also included in this program is faculty development to better integrate teaching and care.