In the past year in the United States, individuals pursuing levels of higher education has increased. Statistics show that in the past year as well, jobs requiring higher education and some sort of professional degree has also increased. But why? I can't speak for others, but I can speak for myself. I am a current pre-medical student. Admission to medical school requires certain classes and the taking of a test over those materials known as the MCAT.
As I've been going through my classes, I've always questioned the relevance of the material I'm learning. Why are these classes important enough to be a requirement? When taking a step back, they all make sense. Cell Biology is a detailed class about cells, and cells make up our tissues and bones and allow reproduction. Those same cells make up the organs and muscles we learn about in human anatomy. In Organic Chemistry, we learn about the molecules and atoms that exist in our bodily processes, such as breathing or our metabolism, which connects back to the anatomy of the endocrine system. Everything is connected. That much I understand. But is the knowledge learned in these classes in any way applicable to what doctors are supposed to be?
When humans first evolved, "doctors" existed as healers and caretakers, focusing on using natural remedies and treating the patient using what they had available. The process was a heavily spiritual one, with a connection built between the doctor and each patient. They used herbs, and various concoctions, whatever nature had to offer.
Today, medicine is more science focused, which medicines and cures based on chemicals and anatomy. Doctors have better resources and a larger understanding of what exactly they are dealing with thanks to a necessary level of higher education and advancements in technology. They are more educated, and better equipped to handle the human body and the pharmaceuticals dispensed to them. But are they better healers, or have doctors simply become those able to regurgitate information and come to specific conclusions based on various inputs? Simply, has the level of higher education created better doctors but worse caretakers?
I grew up visiting various doctors and hospitals for a variety of health issues. Many of those attempted to prescribe me medication and send me on my way, ignoring many of my symptoms and outlying factors. They looked at my problem and not at me as a whole. So although higher education has, in fact, created more educated doctors, those with higher abilities to truly understand what they are doing, I don't believe it has created better patient care.
I believe there's more to being a doctor than education. It also involves the ability to think outside of the box and connect symptoms that may not be connected. But most of all, it involves caring for patients, not just as objects or a problem to be solved, but as people with multiple factors coming to them for help.