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Trop Parasitol. 2019 Jan-Jun;9(1):3-6. doi: 10.4103/tp.TP_7_19. Epub 2019 May 22.

Systems approach in medical education: The thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

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Centre for Health Professions Education, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (Deemed University), Puducherry, India.
Vice Chancellor, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (Deemed University), Puducherry, India.


Systems approach is a time tested, method of trying to understand the reality holistically, and resolving the issues by problem-solving method. It has resulted in enormous applications in almost every field of knowledge, science, technology, industries, agriculture, and health or education. The main essence of systems thinking lies in minimizing the inputs, optimizing the process to maximize the outputs through continuous feedback, and monitoring. Medical education has been greatly benefitted as the systems approach has influenced all aspects, from delineating the competencies of doctors, designing curriculum that includes comprehensive assessment. However, of late, there has been a debate as to whether the systems approach can really contribute to resolve complex issues such as bringing curricular reforms, or promote policy changes in patient care, education, or research. This involves a paradigm shift from problem-solving approach to "pattern recognition" and adaptive action to correct the system. This review based on critical appreciation, begins with a thesis that systems approach is a great tool. It then exposes its inadequacy to address complex systems. This is antithesis. In the end, a synthesis of both the contradictory views has been proposed as a take home.


Complex systems; medical education; systems approach

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