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Acad Med. 2004 Oct;79(10):910-7.

Revisiting the idea of a national center for health professions education research.

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  • 1The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA.


The need for a national center for health professions education research is more compelling today than when originally proposed 15 years ago. There is a general consensus as to the need for better assessment of the educational outcomes of U.S. health professions schools, especially in light of the large investment society makes in the health education infrastructure. The author reviews briefly the current state of research in medical education as an example of health professions education research, from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives, and uses the emergence of the teaching academy movement as an example of how innovation in medical education is often implemented (i.e., the "cottage industry approach"). The substantial obstacles facing medical education research are discussed, including significant conceptual, curricular, financial, and outcomes-related challenges. The author proposes the creation and organization of a national center for health professions education research, consisting of four research divisions: basic, translational, applied, and systems. The funding for the center would be derived from a research and development assessment on existing federal investments in health education. The hurdles to the creation of such a center are reviewed and include intellectual, financial/political, and regulatory ones. The author suggests that a national center for health professions education research can be an effective mechanism for the study of many complex issues in health education and health care delivery for which the public desires accountability.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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