By Wendy Sarubbi | October 18, 2011 9:31 am

Dr. Darrell Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), visited the UCF College of Medicine recently and declared, “You are an incredibly innovative and energized place, a model of where medical education is headed.”

The AAMC represents all 134 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools along with nearly 400 major teaching hospitals.

While visiting the College of Medicine, Dr. Kirch met with faculty, administrators and students and toured the new state-of-the art medical education building. He told students he had visited the medical school in its first year and met the charter class as they trained in temporary facilities on Research Parkway. He praised “what has happened at the College of Medicine in just a few years.”

Dr. Kirch told students they should be appreciative of their medical school and their curriculum because “18,000-plus students started medical school this year and few, if any, have a more student-centered program than you do. Your program is as innovative as I see anywhere in the country.”

He also praised the Anatomy Lab which he had just visited. “I don’t know of another Anatomy Lab in the country that is set up like yours, or that has a volunteer faculty member donating full-body CAT scans of cadavers,” he told the students. “That is phenomenal. People here are handing you gifts all day long. They are providing you with an extraordinary experience.”

Dr. Kirch explained how the AAMC is revising the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) so it also reflects social and behavioral competencies. The goal, he said, is not just to choose medical students based on their grade in organic chemistry but also on “how will you communicate with my family when I’m in a coma?” The AAMC is also working on ways to test pre-professional attributes for medical students, including how they reason through an ethical dilemma, their integrity and empathy skills.

He urged the UCF doctors in training to be leaders in issues such as health care reform and increasing the number of residency programs. “Physician leadership has been in short supply,” he said. “Be active change agents. Become a voice.”

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