Restoring Trust in Science and Medicine: Empowering and Educating Future Physicians in Science Communication with the Public

Acad Med. 2023 Feb 15. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000005178. Online ahead of print.


While the traditional medical school curriculum specializes in teaching doctor-patient communication at the individual patient level, the need to train physicians to communicate science and medicine effectively to the public at large is, for the most part, ignored. With the unchecked proliferation of misinformation and disinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that current and future medical professionals learn to engage in the public arena using multiple methods (written, oral, social media) across multimedia platforms to dispel misinformation and accurately educate the public. This article describes the authors' interdisciplinary approach at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine to teaching science communication to medical students, early experiences, and future directions in this vein. The authors' experiences show that medical students are viewed as trusted sources of health-related information, and thus, need the skills and training to tackle misinformation and that students across these learning experiences appreciated the opportunity to choose a topic of their interest according to what matters to them and their communities most. The feasibility of successfully teaching scientific communication in an undergraduate and medical education curriculum is confirmed. These early experiences support the feasibility and impact of training medical students to improve communication about science with the general public.