Even though chronic pain is an issue for 116 million adults in the US, medical schools often only teach the subject within a more generalized medical course instead of having a stand-alone course in the curriculum. In the study, only 3.8% of medical schools listed a required pain course and only 16.3% had an optional pain course that could be taken as an elective. Sadly, during the four years students spend at medical school, they often spend less than 5 hours total becoming educated about pain topics. This leaves them under-prepared when they move to practice and have to treat patients who report issues with chronic pain.
“The more we come to know about what’s being taught in pain, the more glaringly obvious the gap between theory and practice becomes.” ~ Beth B. Murinson, MS, MD, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Pain Education (Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine)
What must be done is a re-evaluation of medical subjects and a re-configuration of medical school curriculum overall. Within medical areas that are more prevalent in the general population, more time must be spent focusing on them in medical school. Students must gain hands-on training in order to be better prepared how to handle these subjects when they go into practice. Pain treatment can only improve when education sets the groundwork for success.