Medical training reforms may have dire consequences

07/07/04

Reform of undergraduate medical teaching in the United Kingdom: a triumph of evangelism over common sense BMJ Volume 328, pp 92-4

Current reforms of medical training may have dire consequences for the future of the medical profession and patients, warn researchers at Bristol University in this week's BMJ.

Traditional medical training produces doctors with a sound knowledge base that allows them to practise across a broad spectrum of medicine. However, reforms endorsed by the UK General Medical Council aim to replace traditional teaching methods with student led and problem based approaches.

About a third of UK medical schools have now embraced these principles, yet there is no evidence that the "new" strategies will produce better doctors, and a risk that students with inadequate knowledge will become poor clinicians, argue the authors.

Diversity in the approaches to medical training is to be welcomed, but only if the end result is doctors who are truly fit for purpose, they add. "The absence of any evidence that new ideologies will produce better doctors than do traditional curriculums forces us to conclude that these reforms are being propelled more by evangelical zeal than by rationale."

They call for a rigorous comparison of "traditional" versus "new" curriculums to determine the best strategy for training doctors. "The training of doctors is too important an activity for bold experiments to be conducted without discovering what really happens," they conclude.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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