In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Stanley Goldfarb, MD, a former associate dean of curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, frets about “the zeitgeist of sociology and social work” that, he claims, have made “social justice” and “population health” paramount teaching topics in medical schools. Dr. Goldfarb cites as his only evidence the existence of classroom lectures that teach future doctors about the effects of gun violence laws, climate change, and cultural diversity in patient groups. (“Take Two Aspirin and Call Me by My Pronouns: at ‘woke’ medical schools curricula are increasingly focused on social justice rather than treating illness”). The article doesn’t merit much examination. It’s a scattershot diatribe of disjointed reasoning, written badly. It did, however, prompt a fascinating backlash of responses on social media. Physician colleagues across the spectrum of patient practice reacted with anger and responded with disdain for the retrograde attitude toward medical education Goldfarb seeks to promulgate.
Megan Ranney, MD, an emergency physician with a masters in public health, responded:
This is absolutely drivel. About as BS as anything I’ve heard.
The public’s health IS OUR JOB. And throughout history we, as doctors, have helped lead change in behalf of our patients’ health.
Whether smallpox vaccines, sanitation, or seatbelts, #ThisIsOurLane.