Current efforts in medical education to incorporate national health priorities.
Nair M., Fellmeth G.
As a reflection on the Edinburgh Declaration, this conceptual synthesis presents six important challenges in relation to the role of medical education in meeting current national health priorities. CONTEXT: This paper presents a conceptual synthesis of current efforts in medical education to incorporate national health priorities as a reflection on how the field has evolved since the Edinburgh Declaration. Considering that health needs vary from country to country, our paper focuses on three broad and cross-cutting themes: health equity, health systems strengthening, and changing patterns of disease. METHODS: Considering the complexity of this topic, we conducted a targeted search to broadly sample and critically review the literature in two phases. Phase 1: within each theme, we assessed the current challenges in the field of medical education to meet the health priority. Phase 2: a search for various strategies in undergraduate and postgraduate education that have been tested in an effort to address the identified challenges. We conducted a qualitative synthesis of the literature followed by mapping of the identified challenges within each of the three themes with targeted efforts. FINDINGS: We identified six important challenges: (i) mismatch between the need for generalist models of health care and medical education curricula's specialist focus; (ii) attitudes of health care providers contributing to disparities in health care; (iii) the lack of a universal approach in preparing medical students for 21st century health systems; (iv) the inability of medical education to keep up with the abundance of new health care technologies; (v) a mismatch between educational requirements for integrated care and poorly integrated, specialised health care systems; and (vi) development of a globally interdependent education system to meet global health challenges. Examples of efforts being made to address these challenges are offered. DISCUSSION: Although strategies for combatting these challenges exist, the effectiveness of educational models depends on them being locally adaptable and applicable. Curricular reform must go hand-in-hand with research and evaluation to develop comprehensive futuristic models of teaching and learning that will adequately prepare health professionals to address the challenges.