Things they didn’t teach in Medical School: Part 5 The 21st Century Skills

In thinking about my question – about what I wasn’t taught (or maybe didn’t learn) in medical school – I’ve been trying to come up with a way of summarising the themes and chanced upon a book about life skills needed for the 21st Century. I thought it encapsulated the needs of the modern doctor in training nicely. Whilst modern curricula do address some of these issues they certainly don’t give them enough prominence.

Trilling and Fadel describe in their book 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times, 7 C’s that constitute the 21st Century skill-set when combined with the tradiational 3 R’s (reading, writing & arithmetic). The 7 C’s are:

Critical thinking and problem solving
Communications, information, and media literacy
Collaboration, teamwork, and leadership
Creativity and innovation
Computing and ICT literacy
Career and learning self-reliance
Cross-cultural understanding

Looking through the 7 C’s one can see the importance of each of these skills for a doctor working in a health system dominated by team-based healthcare, electronic connectivity, mHealth, social media, and patient empowerment. These skills also subserve the doctors of the future as more and more digital natives or Millennials pursue non-traditional, portfolio-style careers. Practising doctors and medical students can evaluate themselves against these 7 C’s.

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