Integrating AI as a DO Physician | PCOM and AI
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Balancing Act: Integrating AI as a DO


December 1, 2023

When we rely on Face ID to unlock our phone, have Grammarly spell-check our email, or ask Google for directions, we're counting on artificial intelligence (AI) to work its magic.

Physician in white coat working on a laptop with an overlay of AI and tech related graphics.
PCOM medical students are taught to leverage technology with holistic care of patients.

As discussed in the New York Times, the impact of AI on our daily lives is rapidly becoming omnipresent. While it's often talked about as a new invention, people have been using artificial intelligence for a while. In recent years, however, AI has found itself at the forefront of many conversations.

Even with its long list of benefits, a number of challenges are posed. For those who work in higher education, there have been warnings about the online platform ChatGPT and its popularity among students – and raised questions regarding ethics and academic integrity.

Emerging as a leader in generative AI, ChatGPT can quickly take inputted information and create entirely new content. In a bind, students might use the site to produce entire assignments, like essays, for example.

With such advances in artificial intelligence, medical schools now find themselves in a unique position as they sit at the intersection of higher education and medicine. 

Doctors and physicians have long used AI to perform their duties, such as dictating and documenting histories and physicals for each patient.

While medical students are learning how to do these things by hand, they are also encouraged to keep up with technological changes and advancements in vital tools that can help achieve better patient outcomes.

“As things grow, you need to be able to adjust with the times,” said Peter Bidey, DO '08, MSEd, FACOFP, dean of the osteopathic medicine program at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). “AI isn't that new, and certain aspects have been used for years. It's just better and quicker now.”

The speed at which AI can operate is one major reason people enjoy using it. For medical students, artificial intelligence may change the way medical schools operate. Some institutions, for example, are opting for virtual cadavers to learn about anatomy and physiology.

As technology rapidly advances, some might wonder if artificial intelligence could ever replace doctors and physicians. 

Bidey is confident human doctors will continue to play a primary role, keeping checks and balances in place and ensuring proper patient care.

One thing that is certain at PCOM is that students are being, and will continue to be, taught a holistic approach to healthcare. This includes learning how to utilize technology, which could make things more efficient for providers and patients moving forward.

“One of the things I think is good for medicine is that if we use AI properly, it should make our lives easier,” said Bidey. “It's kind of exciting to see how things go.”

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  • About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

    For the past 125 years, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM, a private, not-for-profit accredited institution of higher education, operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, and school psychology. The college also offers graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, physician assistant studies, and school psychology. PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.

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