Medical students traverse challenging learning requirements throughout their career, from medical school to certification, licensing and practice. Nonetheless, there continues to be a clamor for substantial reforms to the curriculum, identifying worries about the limited abilities that medical graduates possess to undertake any critical healthcare responsibility.
While most contemporary curricula are predominantly designed by educators, some of whom are medical experts, there is a need for them to pair up with other active medical professionals. This partnership will ensure different perspectives are considered in developing various curricular elements to deliver meaningful abilities to students.
With that, we examine the medical education curriculum and how medical professionals impact curriculum reform.
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What is a medical education curriculum?
A medical education curriculum features a standards-based sequence of planned experiences and exercises where medical students practice and achieve proficiency in content and applied learning skills. The curriculum serves as the central guide for all educators as to what is essential for teaching and learning so that every medical student can undergo rigorous academic training.
The call for changes to the medical curriculum has been evident for over a century, ever since the publication of the Flexner Report in 1910. Yet, it’s more prevalent now than ever with the massive transformation of medical care and education. For instance, adopting technology in the healthcare industry has changed medical education from a teacher-centric practice to a more student-centric one.
An effective curriculum offers standardized outcomes while fostering personalized learning pathways, supporting self-modulated learning and allowing student curiosity. As such, the input of medical professionals is relevant to ensure all these points are met and students are exposed to longitudinal experiences and quality education.
Today, medical students can enroll in medical programs that feature new curricula, such as Baylor University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Executive Nurse Leadership program. The DNP executive leadership program is specially tailored for nurses to distinguish themselves at the highest level of the field.
Baylor’s DNP-ENL program is remote with a curriculum that centers on the Adams Influence Model – a practical framework for nurse leaders. The program allows students to gain relevant advanced knowledge while creating a network of colleagues and mentors.
The impact of medical professionals on curriculum reform
In a curriculum context, reforms represent changes or improvements made to an already existing curriculum that suits current educational objectives and evolving societal needs. Curricular development involves some of the following steps:
- Problem identification
- Needs assessments
- Setting goals and objectives
- Educational strategies
- Evaluation and feedback
While these remain practical steps, the need for curriculum reform calls for a more strategic approach, especially in a critical and complex field such as healthcare. As such, here are ways medical professionals can impact curriculum reform.
Recognizing current developments and trends
Healthcare has developed significantly over the past few years, most especially with the adoption of technology. However, the level of this development is often dependent on geographical location. For instance, most healthcare institutions in third-world countries do not have the same technology adoption level as more developed countries. That notwithstanding, technologies such as the internet and its influence on education have seen widespread adoption globally.
Unsurprisingly, all new developments and trends relevant to effective healthcare go through active medical professionals. Recognizing these developments can help in restructuring the current curriculum so that students are exposed to novel techniques for providing adequate medical care. In summary, medical professionals can impact curriculum reform by pairing up their past experiences with the current needs in the healthcare industry.
Understanding changing societal requirements
Over time, as society continues to undergo change, traditional healthcare methods give way to newer, more effective methods to address the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of individuals, families, communities and whole populations. Because medical professionals regularly engage with the public, they have a front-row seat to observe these changes.
Therefore, members of the medical community are best placed to understand these societal changes and their impact in a healthcare setting. By being part of a curriculum development committee, medical professionals can infuse their knowledge of the current societal requirements regarding healthcare and offer amendments to the curriculum to address these new needs in society.
Knowledge of learner psychology
Psychology is a critical aspect for curriculum developers, and with education becoming more learner-centric, there is a need for curriculum developers to have a solid insight into the learner’s psychology. This incorporates how people learn and interact with their environments through classical and operant conditioning and observational learning.
In truth, active medical professionals, especially those who have recently passed through any level of medical education, can give their opinions on how the curriculum can be improved to help students understand and build better competency in the field.
For instance, nurses who graduate from a registered nursing or BSN degree program are viewed as educators. They can offer keen insights on learner psychology, including personality traits, motivation and how the environment can affect students, all of which can inform existing nursing curriculum through the incorporation of practical tasks and activities.
Benefits of curriculum reform
Concerning debates over medical education curriculum reforms, it’s a widely accepted opinion by both educators and medical professionals that raising learning standards is a critical determinant for improving knowledge and competency among medical graduates. Thus, improved standards from curriculum reforms serve the following benefits:
With reforms to the curriculum, students can learn more through better, more effective methods that help them reach a higher standard and level of ability.
Including medical professionals in curricular reform will help develop learning methods that focus more on the student’s development. With these reforms, medical education becomes more understandable, measurable, objective and well-defined, enabling students to work better and more productively.
In every field, curriculum reform has provided real accountability by concentrating on the results. Through this, students, educators and other stakeholders can effectively evaluate the methods that work best.
Reforming the curriculum for medical education needs to be done in light of current cultural needs, technological innovations and global pressures. With various individuals and groups identifying the need for these changes, some reforms have already been made to improve the level of learning in medical institutions.
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