Teaching Future Physicians the Value of Care

By Charlene Gaw

My first day of medical school was a day I had been anticipating for almost a decade. I’m sure this is also the case for many people that study medicine in Europe and all over the world. It started in high school when I began volunteering at a local hospital. At the time, I had an idealized vision of a career in medicine. I hoped to spend my days caring for and listening to patients with my biggest challenge being their chief complaints. My journey towards this goal exposed my naiveté of the healthcare system and I soon realized this was not the healthcare world I had imagined. During my physician observations, I measured the time spent on administrative paperwork, saw the disparity in access to care and felt the futility of treatment. I soon realized that healthcare itself is truly an ailing patient, and I there is nothing I want more than to help.

My first day of medical school at Mayo Medical School addressed this exact desire. We began our curriculum with the ‘Science of Healthcare Delivery’ and that I was an inaugural student of this new curriculum. Now, Mayo Medical School is now 1 of 11 schools nationwide that the American Medical Association is funding to accelerate change in medical education for long term impact on future medical professionals. The developed curriculum splits up healthcare delivery into six main sectors: (1) High Value Care, (2) Population Centered Care, (3) Team Based Care, (4) Leadership, (5) Person Centered Care, and (6) Health Policy, Economics, and Technology. Each section of the course is led by a knowledgeable expert in the field.

A unique aspect of this course involved an assignment to conduct individualized research on any topic within the scope of health care delivery we wanted. At the conclusion of our research, we were to compile a presentation to share with faculty and peers. This fostered independent thought and creation within the curriculum. During the course, I found the health policy, economics, and technology portion the most informative and inspiring. In such an interdisciplinary world, it is invaluable for physicians to understand the economics driving health policy. It is so important that physicians today understand the political legislation because of how it affects their day to day practices. This course was pivotal in giving me this new exposure to legislation but also focusing on new topics such as “high value care.” I believe medical school is a pivotal time for career exploration and a critical time to ensure physicians learn a more comprehensive view of the healthcare industry.

50 years ago, Medicare and Medicaid were newly minted policies revolutionizing the delivery of healthcare; today, the science of healthcare delivery is a field being integrated into medical school curriculum. This unique aspect of my medical education strengthens my confidence in my ability to affect change in the healthcare system as a future physician. I am grateful for an education that addresses systematic, effective improvement in patient care and one I know that I am receiving through this new innovative curriculum.


Charlene Gaw is a first-year medical student at Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN. She graduated with a dual-degree in psychology and chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is interested in health policy and patient advocacy.

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