A Global Flexner Report

In the centennial year of Flexner’s report on medical education, leaders in academic medicine have issued new calls for reform. The Carnegie Foundation issued a report this summer and this month a conference on Health Professionals for a New Century convened in Boston.

The conference organizers summarized their findings in an article in the Lancet. They found that worldwide 2420 medical schools train 1 million new physicians each year. The distribution of medical schools, however, do not match population. The U.S. has over 150 medical schools while 36 countries have no medical schools at all. Providing universal, high-quality health care, the authors argue, should be the goal of medical education.

This new phase of interdependent medical training involves a new kind of learning.

  1. First we had informational learning, which is the assimilation of facts and skills.
  2. Then comes formational learning, which prepares trainees to become professionals.
  3. The next step should be transformational learning, where trainees develop leadership attributes to serve as change agents.

The report does not offer many concrete suggestions for how to implement transformational learning or what changes it would mean for existing curricula. It seems that they mean to provide an overarching vision that will help shape global health citizens.

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