Would Sal Khan Survive in Academic Medicine?


This weekend, Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy delivered a keynote at the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) Annual Meeting.   The Twitter feed echoed the fantasy of flipping the ether dome.  Medicine via the Khan Academy method.

Then came the question, ‘If Sal Khan were medical faculty member would he get tenure?’  It raises the question about what we value in medical education.  Not what we talk about, but what we get behind.

I suspect the answer is no.  Revolutionizing the way the world learns won’t get you very far with an advancement committee.  But a polished list of irrelevant publications will assure your place as a leader.

The thousands of professional medical educators who witnessed Khan this weekend were blown away.  It was the right message at the right time.  Beyond reconsidering our tired, 20th century methods of industrialized one-way information delivery, maybe we should rethink what we value.  If Khan couldn’t succeed in academic medicine perhaps we should ask ourselves why.  Maybe we should rethink what we’re doing.

What do you think?  If Sal Khan were a medical academic, would he have tenure?