Malaysian medical students apprehensive over using AI in healthcare

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AI in Malaysian healthcare is evolving rapidly. The Ministry of Health in has made substantial investments in enhancing local healthcare through the utilisation of AI, from developing systems such as Hotspot Identification for Dynamic Engagement, and partnering with Huawei to deploy an AI-assisted quantitative medical image analysis system in local hospitals to expedite COVID-19 screening processes.

While these changes underscore the necessity for medical schools to adapt quickly to ensure that the next generation of doctors possess the requisite skills to embrace AI in their future practice, Malaysian Medical Council Standards for Undergraduate Medical Education currently do not stipulate any mandatory teaching of AI in Malaysian medical schools.

Until recently, the attitudes of Malaysian medical students towards AI were also uncertain. A survey conducted among medical students has revealed a significant majority of respondents, 87%, believing that AI will play an essential role in shaping the future of healthcare. The survey, distributed to all 31 medical schools in the nation, indicated widespread recognition among students of AI’s transformative potential in revolutionising various aspects of healthcare delivery, ranging from diagnosis and treatment to patient management and population health.

However, despite the overall optimism regarding AI’s role in healthcare, there remain nuanced concerns and apprehensions among students regarding its impact on their future careers and professional practice. For instance, a considerable proportion, 32.55%, expressed hesitance towards considering a career in radiology due to the perceived advancements in AI technology. This apprehension stems from the notion that AI may eventually replace certain medical specialties or diminish the need for human intervention in diagnostic processes.

Furthermore, while most students acknowledged the potential benefits of AI education in enhancing their career prospects, there is a notable gap between their perceived readiness and actual proficiency in utilising AI tools and principles.

Despite 71% of students agreeing that AI education would be beneficial for their careers, only 44% reported feeling confident in using basic healthcare AI tools upon graduation. This disparity underscores the need for comprehensive AI education initiatives within medical school curricula to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate AI-driven clinical landscapes effectively.

The survey also revealed a discrepancy between students’ confidence in their understanding of AI concepts and their actual proficiency when formally assessed on AI knowledge. This suggests a potential overestimation of their AI literacy, highlighting the importance of conducting formal assessments to accurately gauge students’ AI readiness and bridge any knowledge gaps.

Tailored educational initiatives and fostering a deeper understanding of AI’s implications and applications in healthcare will be pivotal in ensuring that future healthcare professionals are adeptly prepared to leverage AI as a transformative tool in delivering quality patient care.

Dr. Kavintheran Thambiratnam avatar

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