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January 07, 2013

Ex-Surgeon General: Add Computer Science to Medical School

Dr. Koop (yes, that Dr. Koop) is the senior author on a paper suggesting that doctors should also be computer scientists (click to download the pdf).

From the paper:

But fundamentally, very few physicians have formal CS training. We are therefore hamstrung in implementing IT solutions. We are unqualified to participate in designing and developing transformative applications. We are poorly equipped to apply the intellectual rigor of CS in research and clinical problem solving.

The solution?

To overcome this problem, one solution is to incorporate a formal, medicine-specific [computer science] curriculum as the third pillar of medical education.

The argument?

But [computer science] and medicine revolve around the same core processes: the gathering, storage, and interpretation of data.


As a pillar of medical education, [computer science] benefits medical students and physicians in two discrete domains: critical thinking and lifelong learning. The optimal time for this training is during the preclinical years of medical school.

I can't even begin to describe how wrong I think this is. Train medical students to be doctors. They don't have to be chemists. They don't have to be physicists. They don't have to be anatomists, zoologists, or even biologists. They certainly don't have to be computer scientists any more than they have to be psychologists, sociologists, dieticians, anthropologists, or population geneticists.

Medicine is not a science: it is a discipline. Doctors are not scientists: they are doctors.

Posted by rbrent at January 7, 2013 06:58 AM


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