Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel
Annual Conference of the Association for Medical Education in Europe
"Horizon Scanning in Medical Education: 2020 Vision"
August 27-30, 2000
The Conference was hosted by the Faculty of Health Sciences of Ben Gurion University of the Negev on the 30th Anniversary of the founding the University and 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Faculty of Health Sciences. This Faculty established in 1974 has adopted the innovative ideas of creation of well-qualified physicians, sensitive to ethnic and cultural aspects of medicine and inclined toward a career in primary care and community medicine. This Beer Sheva model of medical education emphasizes early clinical exposure, teaching of communication skills, system-based and integrated components in curriculum, supervised self-learning, community-based teaching, student empowerment and continual self-examination. Many medical schools in different parts of the world have adopted many of these innovative ideas.
In this innovative environment the invited speakers and over 450 participants from 41 countries all over the world presented almost 250 papers and debated during plenary and large-group sessions the present and future of the medical education. The necessary changes in medical education are being forced by medical, sociological and technological development. The present educational technology and methods permit the introduction of innovative changes that are necessary to meet future challenges. What is needed is a new thinking about medical education to be able to allow transformations according to new needs and expectations. We need a new medical education paradigm, foresight and courage to introduce the reforms. A strategic vision for medical education requires revolutionary as well as evolutionary approaches. Simply improving the existing system may not be sufficient.
The main limitations to these innovative approaches are likely to be the imagination of those concerned with planning medical education and their ability to bring about the changes necessary. To achieve the systematic reform is very difficult as the older paradigms are deeply rooted in the academic world. The question is: do we have enough courage and strength to chop down these paradigms and build for the future to bring expected changes? We run the risk of seeing a growing gap between what is possible educationally and what is in fact delivered. We also must be aware that failure to meet the challenges and lack of response to the technological and educational trends will alienate medical students and the public at large.
These new challenges - relevant, effective and cost-efficient medical education - will also require a new kind of medical teacher: the career medical teachers. These individuals will undergo appropriate training and will be certified or even licensed by an external authority as well as the medical education programs. The focus must also be put on the Best Evidence Medical Education - a movement which promotes the use of best evidences on which to base teaching decisions. It is worthwhile to remember that, in the words of Charles Handy, "The future is not inevitable. We can influence it, if we know what we want it to be".