Letter: Competencies good but not enough

It is good to read about the proposed eight competency areas planned for premedical students (“Premed requirements could be revised,” Nov. 6). Dean Robert Alpern suggests these new requirements, which will replace the set of prerequisites, will give undergraduates “more time for creative engagement in a broad expansive liberal arts education.” It would be great to lose the dreaded “orgo” requirement that has frightened away some great Yale students who might have been caring physicians even if not research scientists.

The college years are surely the time for future clinicians to study the humanities and social sciences that make for more empathic clinical care. But premed students anxious to win the race for medical school entry may focus solely on those eight designated areas — all related to science or math and with more than enough material for all four years. Two additional “competencies,” in the humanities and in the social sciences, would make attention to those areas in college far more plausible.

Howard Spiro

Nov. 8

The writer is a professor emeritus at the Yale School of Medicine where he established the Gastrointestinal Section and the Program for Humanities in Medicine.

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