British Columbia

UBC dermatology head worried about possible medical school curriculum changes

The head of the University of British Columbia's department of dermatology is worried proposed curriculum changes to the M.D. program will leave graduating students inadequately trained in dermatology.

Dr. Harvey Lui says changes could leave graduating medical students not adequately trained in dermatology

Dr. Harvey Lui, head of UBC's department of dermatology, is worried the mandatory dermatology clinical rotation will be dropped for new medical students. (Getty Images)

The head of the University of British Columbia's department of dermatology is concerned over some possible changes to the medical school curriculum.

Dr. Harvey Lui said up until now, medical students have completed a mandatory clinical rotation in dermatology during their third year of study in the program.

The medical school is currently reviewing its curriculum, and Lui said one suggestion is to eliminate the clinical dermatology rotation as a mandatory component.

By dropping this hands-on component, he said, students will miss out.

"The most crucial learning happens on the bedside, in the hospital, in the wards. That's where students really learn where to become empathetic doctors," he said.

Dermatology, he argued, is especially important since many skin problems are common health issues and family physicians are often the ones who must make the diagnoses.

"As part of being a doctor, you need to learn certain essential skin conditions," he said. "It's probably one of the most common presentations in the medical setting."

No final decision yet

Dr. Deborah Money, executive vice dean for the Faculty of Medicine, said no decisions have been made yet to cut the rotation.

"Although an initial recommendation came forward to change clinical rotations for dermatology, we've since deferred that decision until the new advisory group can fully discuss the issues and bring forward recommendations," she told CBC News.

"Under the renewed curriculum, all medical students will continue to meet the learning objectives related to dermatology, and their knowledge of this specialty will continue to be rigorously tested over the course of the four-year M.D. undergraduate program," she said.

She said a final decision will be made before students start their third year in July.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled UBC dermatology head worried about proposed medical school curriculum changes