UNM SOM Policy on Conflict Of Interest for Undergraduate Medical Education sign now


This is a proposal on behalf of the students of the University Of New Mexico School Of Medicine to raise the standards for lecturers invited to teach at our school. Medical and physician assistant students are at the most impressionable stage of their careers as future care providers. This is especially true during the first two years of basic science training. Due to the volume of material required to be understood and applied, many of the students take the material presented in lectures as fact without having the leisure of being able to verify it. It is for this reason that the utmost care must be placed into the selection of lecturers that will be able to clearly and reliably pass on evidence based information without bias and with minimal errors.

A huge debate is currently being waged across the medical community regarding the effects of the pharmaceutical and device industries and their influence on the prescribing habits of providers and the ever increasing cost of health care. There is a growing realization within the medical community that, while interaction with these industries can be beneficial, industry influence may increase hospital costs, impair the objectivity of evidence-based clinical decision making, compromise patient safety, reduce the quality of training programs, and harm the reputation of academic institutions. Both the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association along with many other respected peer reviewed sources have published articles that all recommend that effective policies should be instituted to curb the deleterious effects this may have on the profession.

The PharmFree division of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) has created a PharmFree Scorecard website to advocate evidence-based rather than marketing-based prescribing practices, global access to essential medicines, and the removal of conflicts of interest in medicine. The website competitively ranks the conflict of interest relations policies of every U.S. medical school based upon 11 policy domains. Schools that have excellent and effective policies include institutions of every variety: public and private, large and small, urban and rural, research-oriented and clinically-focused. Some of these schools own their own hospital systems while others work with several affiliated, but independent hospitals to train their students. While medical schools such as Stanford University School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Mayo Medical School received a grade of A on the Scorecard, The University of New Mexico School of Medicine received a grade of B. UNMs poorer grade can partially be attributed to the fact that the medical school curriculum does not currently have a conflict of interest policy that specifically pertains to undergraduate medical education.

The School of Medicine at the University of New Mexico is in a unique position among many other schools as it is not only tasked with training experienced and compassionate care providers, but it is also tasked with producing the future care providers for our state. This is a monumental task as it not only encompasses producing well trained professionals, but also providers that will incorporate cost effective and evidence based methods of care.


For the benefit of our school, and the future of health care in our state, we humbly make the following recommendations for conflict of interest in undergraduate medical education:

Preclinical (Phase 1) classes and some Clinical (Phase 2 and 3) presentations take the form of didactic lectures presented from a single point of view. In these settings, lecturers should be prohibited from teaching subjects for which they possess a financial conflict of interest. We specifically define a financial conflict of interest as anyone receiving funding to promote products for industry, be it by direct payment to the individual or through the form of honorariums or any other method of compensation. We feel that lecturers with other Conflicts of Interest, including those with financial interests related to research they have done, may be allowed under the close scrutiny already provided by UNM SOMs policy for Continuing Medical Education disclosure of COIs.

We recognize that Instruction on the wards in the Clinical Phases (2 and 3) is less structured than preclinical education. However, we still believe UNM needs to have strict policies to prevent or minimize the effects of Conflict of Interest. We feel that the medical schools current COI policy for CME is an effective and appropriate model for regulating the education of clinical medical students. This policy aims to prevent Conflicts of Interest whenever possible, minimize the negative effects of Conflicts of Interest when unavoidable. All physicians should publicly disclose conflicts of interest and the nature of the conflict. Prior to the clerkship experience, the school should teach students how to access this information.

Finally we would like to remind the block chairs for Phase one and the Clerkship directors for Phase two and three of the Policy for Managing Private Healthcare Industry Interactions at the UNM HSC Clinical Care and Educational Missions. Section (6) subheading (A) clearly states that all lecturers should disclose any relevant past or existing financial interests with industry to the audience before beginning the lecture. We believe that this section of the policy is not currently being implemented and steps should be taken to remedy this. We would also like to propose that a specific clause be added to this policy which would make it more relevant to Phase one, two and three, which states that these conflicts of interest should be made available on the course syllabus.

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Whitney AcevedoBy:
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Petition target:
University of New Mexico School of Medicine Curriculum Committee


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