Major medical school finds AI literacy lacking within its walls

At one of the largest medical schools in the U.S., less than a third of the students and only half the faculty are up to speed on healthcare-specific AI.

And of those who know anything at all about AI, 72% of students and 59% of faculty learned it not in school but from the media.

The findings are from the Medical College of Georgia, where internist and medical informaticist Elena Wood, MD, PhD, and colleagues received completed surveys on AI knowledge from 121 students and 52 clinical faculty.

The team’s findings are presented in the Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development.

Other key findings from the project:

  • Faculty were more likely than students to lack a basic understanding of AI technologies.
  • Students were more keen on AI education that would train them for providing care, while faculty were more interested in AI training geared toward teaching the subject.
  • Both groups recognize the time constraints behind the shortfall of AI material in med-school curricula, yet both also would appreciate efforts to increase its incidence.
  • Both students and faculty have a “broad and deep AI topic interest” and more positive than negative attitudes toward AI in medicine.

Allowing that their small sample and single-institution findings may reflect self-selection bias by technology-interested individuals, Wood et al. note the results’ echoing of those from prior research.

Given the consistency, the authors suggest their study might help serve “as a foundation for other medical schools interested in developing a collaborative programming approach to address AI literacy” in medical education.

“Multi-institutional studies should be conducted to develop a recommendation on a task force to integrate AI technologies into medical curriculum,” Wood and co-authors comment.

Further, they write,

We believe that AI technologies should be taught as integrated curriculum longitudinally by multidisciplinary teams of educators. … Integration of AI-based material into medical education will take time and will need to be flexible as technologies change as rapidly as biomedical knowledge. There is a great need to prepare educators to teach different aspects of AI technologies.”

With 240 students per class, the Medical College of Georgia is one of the nation’s largest medical schools by class size, according to the college’s website.

The study is available in full for free.

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