The Time Is Now: Using Graduates’ Practice Data to Drive Medical Education Reform

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Abstract

Medical educators are not yet taking full advantage of the publicly available clinical practice data published by federal, state, and local governments, which can be attributed to individual physicians and evaluated in the context of where they attended medical school and residency training. Understanding how graduates fare in actual practice, both in terms of the quality of the care they provide and the clinical challenges they face, can aid educators in taking an evidence-based approach to medical education. Although in their infancy, efforts to link clinical outcomes data to educational process data hold the potential to accelerate medical education research and innovation. This approach will enable unprecedented insight into the long-term impact of each stage of medical education on graduates’ future practice. More work is needed to determine best practices, but the barrier to using these public data is low, and the potential for early results is immediate. Using practice data to evaluate medical education programs can transform how the future physician workforce is trained and better align continuously learning medical education and health care systems.

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