A more holistic view of health with sociology, psychology on the MCAT

The new MCAT has sections on sociology and psychology and this has led to new patterns of study:

The test has been thoroughly revamped and is now three hours longer. It takes 7 1/2 hours to complete, including breaks, and covers four new subjects, including a combined section on psychology and sociology that account for a quarter of the overall score.

Test takers will now have to define terms like “institutional racism” and “social constructionism,” and answer applied questions about how race and class affect health…

“Whether or not someone becomes ill has a lot to do with the society in which they live,” says Catherine Lucey, vice dean of education at University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and a member of the committee that will assess the new MCAT…

How those conditions are treated has also evolved. Doctors know how to treat acute infection now. But managing chronic disease has become a much bigger part of medical care, and doctors need to develop different skills and a different kind of relationship with the patient. Doctors need to build trust, Lucey says, to understand how patients think and make decisions, in order to convince them to exercise more and change their diet.

For those in the comments who think that this is injecting liberal and untrue social science into the practice of medicine, there is plenty of evidence from a variety of fields that medical conditions are not solely dependent on physical traits or conditions. If you want to treat the whole patient, you need some knowledge of the patient’s social and mental well-being.

All that said, it will still be interesting to see whether this affects future doctors. Taking one class in sociology and psychology or looking at study materials on this subject doesn’t necessarily mean the principles will stick if med school programs don’t say much about these topics or knowledge in other areas is more incentivized.

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