Machine Learning: The Next Paradigm Shift in Medical Education

Acad Med. 2021 Jan 25. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003943. Online ahead of print.


Machine learning (ML) algorithms are powerful prediction tools with immense potential in the clinical setting. There are a number of existing clinical tools that utilize ML, and many more are in development. Physicians are important stakeholders in the health care system, but most are not equipped to make informed decisions regarding deployment and application of ML technologies in patient care. It is of paramount importance that ML concepts are integrated into medical curricula to position physicians to become informed consumers of the emerging tools employing ML. This paradigm shift is similar to the evidence-based medicine (EBM) movement of the 1990s. At that time, EBM was a novel concept; now EBM is considered an essential component of medical curricula and critical to the provision of high-quality patient care. ML has the potential to have a similar, if not greater, impact on the practice of medicine. As this technology continues its inexorable march forward, we must continue to evaluate medical curricula to ensure that physicians are trained to be informed stakeholders in the health care of tomorrow.