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Acad Med. 2010 Feb;85(2):333-9. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181c874cb.

Relevance of the Flexner Report to contemporary medical education in South Asia.

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1
Department of Pediatrics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore. Zubair_Amin@nuhs.edu.sg

Abstract

A century after the publication of Medical Education in the United States and Canada: A Report to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (the Flexner Report), the quality of medical education in much of Asia is threatened by weak regulation, inadequate public funding, and explosive growth of private medical schools. Competition for students' fees and an ineffectual accreditation process have resulted in questionable admission practices, stagnant curricula, antiquated learning methods, and dubious assessment practices. The authors' purpose is to explore the relevance of Flexner's observations, as detailed in his report, to contemporary medical education in South Asia, to analyze the consequences of growth, and to recommend pragmatic changes. Major drivers for growth are the supply-demand mismatch for medical school positions, weak governmental regulation, private sector participation, and corruption. The consequences are urban-centric growth, shortage of qualified faculty, commercialization of postgraduate education, untenable assessment practices, emphasis on rote learning, and inadequate clinical exposure. Recommendations include strengthening accreditation standards and processes possibly by introducing regional or national student assessment, developing defensible student assessment systems, recognizing health profession education as a field of scholarship, and creating a tiered approach to faculty development in education. The relevance of Flexner's recommendations to the current status of medical education in South Asia is striking, in terms of both the progressive nature of his thinking in 1910 and the need to improve medical education in Asia today. In a highly connected world, the improvement of Asian medical education will have a global impact.

PMID:
20107364
DOI:
10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181c874cb
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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