As I’m working on my forthcoming book, A Nation in Pain: Healing Our Biggest Health Problem (Oxford, 2013), I’m also contributing to WBUR’s CommonHealth blog. The following entry first appeared on WBUR’s site.
At long, long last, the US Senate is paying attention to chronic pain. At a hearing today, they are listening to a handful of pain experts – and patients – who are filling their ears, and hopefully, their hearts, with details about the enormous, unsolved problem of chronic pain in America. What they may not hear – but should – is how woefully uneducated physicians are about chronic pain. There’s a good, and obviously sad, reason why physicians know so little about pain: Medical schools don’t teach it. A major study of 117 medical schools from Johns Hopkins last year showed that out of all those years in medical school, med students get a median of only 9 hours of pain education. Even veterinary students get more. It’s high time Senators, Congressmen, medical school deans and other powers-that-be took this to heart.