by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
Undergraduate students aspiring to medical school to become doctors face a set of hurdles. A student needs to have an excellent undergraduate grade-point average as well as do well in demanding courses such as physics and organic chemistry. In addition to all of these, there is the daunting challenge of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). It is like the SAT all over again, only the stakes are perhaps even higher and the science questions are tougher.
The MCAT has not been revised for nearly twenty years, and now the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is designing a revision that includes a section on social and behavioral science. This shows recognition that mental-health issues can be studied via legitimate scientific methodology and it also recognizes the importance for future physicians of understanding the brain-mind connection.
Writing in the September 2011 edition of the American Psychological Association (APA) Monitor, B. Azar notes that the “new MCAT is likely to better recognize the mind-body connection.” Daniel Kirch, MD, who over his career has been a psychiatrist, medical-school dean, and health administrator, has observed firsthand the link between psychological factors and mental health. “Just as it’s important for physicians and future physicians to understand biological science, it’s important for them to understand how social and behavioral factors are important in disease,” said Kirch.
Azar also notes: “The AAMC revision calls for one of the four MCAT sections to test students’ understanding of behavioral and social sciences principles. The other three sections will focus on molecular, cellular, and organismal biology; physics, chemistry, and biochemistry; and critical analysis and reasoning skills. The test will also assess students’ understanding of research methods and statistics.”
AMHF applauds this significant revision in testing.