“If you wish to build a ship, do not divide the men into teams and send them to the forest to cut wood. Instead, teach them to long for the vast and endless sea.”

Antoine St Exupery, French poet and pilot

There is much ongoing discussion on artificial intelligence and medical education. This month, the New England Journal of Medicine and its perspective focuses on this topic. The authors start this discussion by stating that there is no watchful waiting for the effects of artificial intelligence and recounts the myriad of concerns: the hallucinations, the implications of patient privacy, and the risk of biases. Perhaps these are relatively minor concerns compared to how this generative AI technology can “affect the thought structures and practice patterns of medical trainees and physicians in the future”. Modern technology has disrupted medicine in the past, from the stethoscope invented in the 19th century to the more current information technology and the problem-oriented medical record.

ChatGPT, a large language model based on the underpinnings of artificial intelligence, is similarly disruptive in healthcare. By passing the medical examination, it has reached the echelon of clinician thinking. There is an ongoing movement to implement this powerful artificial intelligence tool in healthcare, including the use of chatbots in place of clinicians in certain situations. The authors therefore posited the future of artificial intelligence in medical education: should the educators plan to adopt an activist approach to integrate or a passive approach to allow it to self-determine? The dual challenges are to teach the students how to use AI in their practice as well as to use AI in the academic process of teaching medicine.

The very basic tenets of medical education will need to be reconfigured with the incorporation of AI both as a topic for clinical practice and as a resource for the medical education process itself. In addition, AI will also alter the patient-physician relationship as the information asymmetry that existed up to now will be neutralized. The education of AI for all clinicians by medical schools and professional societies will need to be expedient and effective for AI to be accepted and adopted in clinical medicine and healthcare. Finally, the cognitive process of clinical thinking will need to be re-evaluated with the emergence of AI as a “super” information resource.

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This fascinating topic of AI and medical education, along with others will be discussed at the annual Ai-Med Global Summit, scheduled for May 29-31 2024 in Orlando. Book your place now! 

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