FERNLEY, NV – After years of dreaming and several weeks of planning and preparation, the Fernley On-line College of Medicine (FOCM) has opened enrollment for its first class of internet students. A revolutionary idea in medical education, the FOCM streamlines the process of training the next generation of doctors for a bright future in medicine.
“Many other degrees have gone on-line and we thought, why not medicine?” says school President, Dean, and lecturer, Jerry Snyckler, B.A. “When we initially floated the idea out there, we got a lot of resistance from traditional thinkers and narrow-minded medical educators. They said doctors need to be trained in person and that we were crazy. We argued that many schools have already gone to using digital streaming to allow students the option to attend lectures at home or in the classroom. Why don’t we cut the classroom out altogether?”
In response to arguments that the personal and tangible aspects of medical training would be lost in an on-line medical school, FOCM has instituted a partnership with Fed-Ex which will allow the College to ship all of the necessary materials to students on an ongoing basis.
“They’ll learn anatomy by getting their cadaver shipped by mail, directly to their home. They’ll learn pathology with microscope slides arriving daily. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to ship all of the bacterial specimens necessary for the Microbiology lab throughout the US postal system! Nothing is lost under the new method, and students only stand to gain by this innovative approach.”
Snyckler argues that economical and creative solutions such as these are exactly the prescription that our financially strained healthcare system is yearning for. However, despite the potential to dramatically reduce overhead costs on faculty and facilities, some opponents contested that simulating the breadth of patient exposure during the third and fourth years, the clinical years of medical school, would be impossible. Again, technology provided an exciting answer.
“We recognized that the body of simulated medical experiences from television and movie productions was easily as large or larger than the normal experience that most students receive during their clinical clerkships, so someone had the inspiration to create an intense curriculum of structured viewings. We cover everything from M*A*S*H* to Doogie Howser, MD to House, and even some more obscure material in-between. Certainly, it is rigorous and the degree of time commitment won’t be achievable for all potential students, but we feel that it’s a sacrifice necessary to train good doctors.”
Standardized patients (actors trained to simulate real patient experiences) will even make house calls to these doctors in training, showing up on the students’ doorsteps with a variety of complaints, including everything from the common cold to gonorrhea to ethical dilemmas regarding withdrawal of care for a loved one. They’ll learn the physical exam (from pupils to PAP smear) on a live patient in the comfort of their own home, with a preceptor right there by smartphone, when needed, to guide them through the process.
FOCM has not yet been accredited by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), but administrators assure the public that such accreditation is merely a formality and will undoubtedly be forthcoming once the AAMC sees their dramatic results. Graduating students will receive a prestigious E.D.M (Electronic Doctor of Medicine) degree and earn the right to be called “Doctor” outside of the US and its territories. (Due to legal hostilities initiated by the National Board of Medical Examiners, the term “doctor” is currently restricted within the US to those who have completed a “traditional” form of medical education.)
While doubters and naysayers abound, Mr. Snykler has firm words for what he calls “regressive” thinkers.
“Show me a doctor who spent four years in traditional Medical School, and I’ll show you an equally enthusiastic doctor who spent just as much time training online at one tenth of the cost. Do patients want a boring, certified doctor from some hoity-toity, backwards, accredited medical school or do they want a courageous innovator who’s not afraid to do things that other people say are dangerous or unproven? You tell me.”
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