From the NYT:
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
... In addition to the hard-science and math questions that have for decades defined this rite of passage into the medical profession, nearly half of the new MCAT will focus on squishier topics in two new sections: one covering social and behavioral sciences and another on critical analysis and reading that will require students to analyze passages covering areas like ethics and cross-cultural studies.
The Medical College Admission Test is, of course, much more than a test. A good score is crucial for entry into a profession that is perennially oversubscribed. Last year, nearly 44,000 people applied for about 19,000 places at medical schools in the United States. So the overhaul of the test, which was announced last year and approved in February, could fundamentally change the kind of student who will succeed in that process. It alters the raw material that medical schools receive to mold into the nation’s future doctors.
Which is exactly what the A.A.M.C. has in mind. In surveys, “the public had great confidence in doctors’ knowledge but much less in their bedside manner,” said Darrell G. Kirch, president of the association, in announcing the change. “The goal is to improve the medical admissions process to find the people who you and I would want as our doctors. Being a good doctor isn’t just about understanding science, it’s about understanding people.”
The public are idiots. I want Dr. House to diagnose me. I almost died in the 1990s because my nice guy doctor told me that the lump in my armpit, my night sweats, and my loss of energy was probably just a muscle pull. The cancer doctor who saved my life had a lousy bedside manner, but he had access to Rituxan years before everybody else did because he knew more about non-Hodgkins lymphoma than anybody else in the upper Midwest.
The adoption of the new test, which will be first administered in 2015, is part of a decade-long effort by medical educators to restore a bit of good old-fashioned healing and bedside patient skills into a profession that has come to be dominated by technology and laboratory testing. More medical schools are requiring students to take classes on interviewing and communication techniques. To help create a more holistic admissions process, one that goes beyond scientific knowledge, admissions committees are presenting candidates with ethical dilemmas to see if their people skills match their A+ in organic chemistry. ...
Where will students find time to take in the extra material? How to prepare pre-med students long primed to answer questions like “Where are the serotonin receptors 5-HT2A and 5-HT2B mostly likely to be located in hepatocytes” to tackle more ambiguous challenges, like: “Which of the following explanations describes why the Identity vs. Role Confusion stage likely affects views about voting and being a voter?”
... “With the growth in scientific knowledge, we were focused on making sure doctors had a good foundation in hard science,” Dr. Kirch said. Indeed, from 1942 to 1976, the MCAT had included a broad-based knowledge section called “Understanding Modern Society.” Liberal arts questions were eliminated in 1977. ...
Some experts have long identified the MCAT as a stumbling block in the often-failed quest to produce more caring, attentive doctors. It is a test that selects more for calculation skills than empathy. ...
And so the Association of American Medical Colleges began three years ago to redesign the MCAT, surveying thousands of medical school faculty members and students to come up with a test tailored to the needs and desires of the 21st century. In addition to more emphasis on humanistic skills, the new test had to take into account important new values in medicine like diversity, with greater focus on health care for the underserved, Dr. McGaghie said.
As a result, there will be questions about gender and cultural influences on expression, poverty and social mobility, as well as how people process emotion and stress. ...
The mere fact that psychology, sociology and critical thinking will be on the MCAT is likely to change priorities, prompting science majors to think harder about topics like the perception of pain, informed consent, community awareness and the ethics of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.
Okay, let me toss out a guess: The current American medical establishment wants more of their own children and grandchildren to make it as doctors, which, mathematically, means fewer Asians. So they are making it sound like they are changing the test to get more blacks and Hispanics, but they are small change: it's really a plan to cut down on the Asians.
And here's a prediction: it won't much work. Whatever they put on the test, within a few years, the Asians will memorize it and spit it back.
Another possibility is that this is all part of a plan to liberalize Asians, to turn them into Nice White People, before they completely take over the world. That's not necessarily a bad idea. But of course the Nice White People couldn't imagine directly confronting Asians over their various bad habits, like, say, the caste system. Instead, the NWPs are attempting another classic triple bankshot by telling the Asians that Yes, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment Will Be on the Test.