Changes are on the horizon for future physicians. While the health care field is always evolving with the times, prospective medical school students should know that the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, will undergo an overhaul in 2015.
The new MCAT, as well as the types of skills tomorrow's doctors may need to possess, were at the center of a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey[i].
A new test for a new era
In a press release, Owen Farcy, Kaplan Test Prep's director of pre-health institutional partnerships, said he and his fellow company officials support the revamped test, which is also referred to as the MCAT2015 Exam.
"Today's pre-meds recognize that science and health care are far different fields than they were a generation ago and understand that it may be necessary to measure their knowledge and competency as future medical students and future doctors in different ways," said Farcy. "At Kaplan we believe the new MCAT will better prepare students for medical school and careers in medicine, but because of the additional content and the marathon eight-hour length of the new exam, there's no doubt that the path to medical school will be more challenging. We continue to advise pre-meds who can take the current exam to do so and reserve their testing slot immediately, as space is limited."
So what will the new test be like? According to the Association of American Medical College's website, the assessment, which will be released in the spring of 2015, is designed to better prepare future doctors for the modern health care system[ii]. This means the addition of new sections, including those focused on social and behavioral sciences, as well as critical analysis and reasoning skills. The new MCAT is what the AAMC's website calls, "A better test for tomorrow's doctors."
The right skills
The survey, which featured responses from 493 pre-med students, asked questions regarding which skills these individuals believe future doctors should possess. Their answers could be quite helpful to those who wish to enroll in graduate programs in medical school settings.
For example, 48 percent of the pre-med students surveyed said future doctors should know how to speak Spanish. After all, this is the primary language for almost 37 million Americans, according to 2010 U.S. Census data[i].
In addition to Spanish courses, future doctors may want to learn more about the field of psychology. Kaplan Test Prep found that 73 percent of survey respondents view the study of the human mind and behavior as important. Not as crucial to the pre-med students seem to be the subjects of anthropology/cultural studies, philosophy and sociology[i].
Finally, the survey results revealed that a handle on data from different sources is important in the eyes of pre-med students. A total of 52 percent of respondents said analytics and data analysis are areas of study worth a look[i]. Data's role is increasing in multiple sectors, so it only makes sense that future medical professionals be comfortable working with it.
While the skills the survey respondents revealed are likely worth acquiring, they're not the only qualities future physicians should possess. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that physicians should have compassion, patience and physical stamina in their line of work[iii].
In addition, skills related to communication, leadership, organization and problem solving can all come in handy. If you're looking to start acquiring these qualities, perhaps the best place to start is in medical school. As you work your way through the necessary master's programs, your goal of becoming a doctor could grow closer and closer.
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[i]press.kaptest.com/press-releases/kaplan-test-prep-survey-pre-med-students-say-tomorrows-doctors-should-be-part-psychologist-part-data-scientist-and-spanish-speaking | [ii] aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/mcat2015/ | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm#tab-4