When it comes to the Future of Work in the field of medicine, it makes sense to focus on the two main groups of people in the field: doctors and nurses.
“Yes, things have changed and we really have been responsive to the needs of British Columbians,” says Doctor Roger Wong, the Executive Associate Dean of UBC’s Faculty of Medicine.
LISTEN: The Future of Work – What’s next in the field of medicine?
He says the emphasis in their training has changed in recent years.
“When I went through medical school the traditional emphasis on the usual bio-medical sciences was very heavy. Whereas in 2017 when we are teaching our future doctors, we emphasise a holistic approach.”
But what about the reality in every doctor’s office, every clinic, and every hospital these days, doctors seem to have less and less time to sit and listen to patients.
“So what you’re talking about is absolutely true. We actually want to make sure that all our graduates understand and practice medicine which is not just the technicalities, but is about the person, about the patient, as well as those around them, and therefore spending time with them, and again it is about the quality of the time that is spent, not necessarily directed by the quantity of the time that is spent.”
He says the pressures doctors and nurses face in the system is something that also needs to be taught. Wong says they need to teach how to improve, at a system-based level, the quality of health care.
Doctors in training
He says another trend is the number of family doctors they’re training.
“At UBC now we host the largest training program of family medicine in Canada. And in fact, it is also the largest residency program in university. The number of seats comprises of 49 percent of all the seats that we have been training.”
One of the big nursing schools in the province is at BCIT, which just announced the construction of a new, $78-million Health Sciences Centre for Advanced Simulation.
“Simulation has been a game-changer I think across the health industry,” says Rob Kruger, a member of the Faculty of Critical Care Nursing.
He says they’ve come a long way from 2001 when their first mannequin was introduced, named ‘Robbie.’
“We’ve expanded out the program now, we’re about 40 mannequins all told in the School of Health Sciences at BCIT. And we’re really applying that knowledge and the practicing and moving towards being able to have that knowledge and ability to deliver care in a very safe and quality manner before they even set foot in a clinical practice.”
Kruger says another a big change in medicine has been patient population.
“The patient population has dramatically changed in the last 15 years in clinical practice. Patients are much sicker. It used to be if you had a hip replacement, you’d be in the hospital when I started to practice for seven to 10 days. Now, if you can walk by your third day, you’re sent home. We have mothers giving birth and being sent home the same day where probably when you were born your mom stayed in the hospital for up to six days.”
He says, as a result, the interactions are fairly quick, but ads they should be just as important.
What does the future hold for students?
Kruger says there’s a huge benefit from working so closely with the industry when it comes to simulation.
He says industry share their data with schools about some of the common mistakes made in clinical practice.
“So we can take some of those mistakes that are being made in clinical practice and I can recreate those in the simulation lab so that when the students go out they are not creating those mistakes again.”
As for grads, he says hospitals and clinics are looking for people who can assess a patient quickly, good at decision-making and knowing when to intervene when a patient starts to deteriorate. All things that he says are practice through simulation.
As for the future of the industry, despite the financial pressures on our medical health system, with our population aging and everyone living longer, there is no doubt there won’t be a shortage of work in the future for everyone in the system, doctors and nurses included.