The growing abuse of ChatGPT in medical education – Kevin MD

“Ms. Lupo is a 39-year-old female presenting to the ED with a chief complaint of unilateral dead arm.” So read a hypothetical patient scenario during my class one day. As a team of first-year medical students, our job was to review the patient’s case, including history of present illness, past medical history, family history, and symptoms, to diagnose and formulate a care plan to treat Ms. Lupo’s arm. Within seconds, our team inputted Ms. Lupo’s information into ChatGPT’s AI platform, which promptly generated a comprehensive list of possible differentials based on the presented symptoms.
This quick search highlights the benefit of ChatGPT in providing instant feedback. It is, thus, no surprise that it is becoming a common tool in the medical classroom. ChatGPT can provide instant answers on diagnostic and treatment decisions and offer personalized responses to almost any clinical dilemma posed by its interface. Undoubtedly, these Genie-like capabilities can quickly lead one to rely on it for assistance in clinical judgments and medical decision-making. However, beneath the surface of convenience lies the growing concern about its abuse and its implications for the integrity of learning and, ultimately, patient care.
As medical students, our education is not just about regurgitating information; it’s about developing the ability to analyze complex situations, weigh evidence, and make informed decisions under uncertainty. While ChatGPT can certainly streamline the process of accessing medical knowledge, it also has the potential to stifle the development of these essential skills. When presented with a patient case, the temptation to defer to ChatGPT for a list of possible diagnoses may circumvent the cognitive processes involved in synthesizing information, forming hypotheses, and refining clinical reasoning – skills that are fundamental to becoming competent physicians for our future patients.
Moreover, at its core, medicine is as much an art as it is a science. As artists and scientists, we integrate the complexities of human biology, psychology, and sociology to provide holistic care to patients. This holistic approach encompasses not only the ability to make accurate diagnoses and treat medical conditions but also the ability to empathize with patients, consider their individual preferences and values, and address the broader social determinants of health that may impact their well-being.
Moreover, the notion that ChatGPT’s exhaustive responses equate to comprehensive understanding is flawed. Relying on ChatGPT’s answers may create a false sense of proficiency and hinder the cultivation of critical inquiry and self-directed learning – qualities that are indispensable in a rapidly evolving field like medicine. When ChatGPT reduces your motivation to learn deeply about topics because you already “learned” about them from ChatGPT, there is a cause for alarm.
ChatGPT is here to stay. Its obvious benefits include instant solutions and tailored content for learners. However, its drawbacks warrant caution and carefulness when using it as a thinking tool in making medical diagnoses.
The ability to engage in meaningful conversations with patients, interpret nonverbal cues, and tailor care plans to their unique needs and circumstances may be eroded, replaced by a mechanistic approach focused solely on algorithmically derived solutions. The overreliance on ChatGPT as a quick fix for clinical dilemmas may undermine these crucial aspects of patient care. By prioritizing efficiency and convenience over depth of understanding and human connection, clinicians of the future risk becoming AI robots rather than compassionate healers.
Riya Sood is a medical student.
Health IT, Medical school
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