What you wish you learned

December 23, 2018 GMT

The Journal Gazette asked some physicians what they wish they’d learned during medical school. Here are their answers:

Dr. Andy O’Shaughnessy, Fort Wayne nephrologist

The 1990 Indiana University School of Medicine graduate wishes his curriculum had included how to talk to families about death and dying. The kidney specialist treats many diabetic patients in the final stages of kidney failure. “I had to discover that myself,” he said.

Med school also failed to prepare him for the realities of running a practice with other physicians as partners. Students today should be taught how to be good employees, he said, because most work for large health care providers rather than in private practice. 

Dr. Fen-Lei Chang, associate dean of Indiana University’s School of Medicine and director of the local campus

The 1989 University of Illinois School of Medicine at Champaign-Urbana graduate wishes he’d been taught what various health care professionals do and how they can effectively work together. That includes nurses, social workers and various specialists.


Dr. Susan Skochelak, vice president for medical education, American Medical Association

The 1981 University of Michigan School of Medicine graduate felt that her own training didn’t include enough working with patients and their families. Too much of the curriculum, she said, was basic science work performed in classrooms and labs.

Dr. Jay Hess, dean of IU’s medical school

The 1989 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine graduate wishes his hands-on experience with patients during training had been broader. Students encountered only those illnesses patients happened to present. No systematic effort ensured that students treated patients with diverse medical conditions, he said.

Also, medical students now receive coaching on how to improve rapport with patients, something Hess and his classmates were expected to figure out for themselves.

: Sherry Slater