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Acad Med. 2010 Feb;85(2):356-62. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181c87f73.

Standardizing and personalizing science in medical education.

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  • 1University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, USA.


In the century since the initial publication of the Flexner Report, medical education has emphasized a broad knowledge of science and a fundamental understanding of the scientific method, which medical educators believe are essential to the practice of medicine. The enormous growth of scientific knowledge that underlies clinical practice has challenged medical schools to accommodate this new information within the curricula. Although innovative educational modalities and new curricula have partly addressed this growth, the authors argue for a systematic restructuring of the content and structure of science education from the premedical setting through clinical practice. The overarching goal of science education is to provide students with a broad, solid foundation applicable to medicine, a deep understanding of the scientific method, and the attitudes and skills needed to apply new knowledge to patient care throughout their careers. The authors believe that to accomplish this successfully, the following changes must occur across the three major stages of medical education: (1) a reshaping of the scientific preparation that all students complete before medical school, (2) an increase in individualized science education during medical school, and (3) an emphasis on knowledge acquisition skills throughout graduate medical education and beyond to assure lifelong scientific learning. As students progress through the educational continuum, the balance of standardized and personalized scientific knowledge will shift toward personalization. Greater personalization demands that physicians possess well-refined skills in information acquisition, interpretation, and application for optimal lifelong learning and effective clinical practice.

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