Beyond lectures: Exploring new horizons in medical education

Medical education has indeed undergone significant evolution.  

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Medical education has indeed undergone significant evolution. In earlier traditional methods, instruction primarily centred on theoretical teachings, emphasising the memorisation of facts and figures.

The hallmark of this approach was often a "sage on stage" model, where an authoritative figure delivered lectures, expecting passive absorption from the learners. However, the landscape of medical education has shifted towards a more dynamic and interactive approach.

To foster active learning, various approaches have been incorporated into medical education, including small group sessions, case-based learning (CBL), problem-based learning (PBL), self-directed learning, reflective learning, and flipped classrooms, replacing traditional lectures.

CBL immerses students in realistic clinical scenarios, enhancing problem-solving skills. Small group sessions facilitate collaborative learning and personalised feedback, promoting critical thinking and communication skills.

Significantly, technology has reshaped medical education through the integration of online learning platforms and artificial intelligence (AI). This includes the integration of tools like virtual learning environments for course delivery and exam administration.

AI aids educators in devising innovative teaching strategies, while intelligent systems act as competent instructors benefiting students. By incorporating these technologies, learners can delve into intricate clinical scenarios, enhancing the enjoyment and effectiveness of the learning process.

Through the adoption of active learning strategies, integration of technology, and emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and professionalism, medical education is better preparing future healthcare professionals to meet the complex demands of patient care.

By nurturing critical thinking skills, fostering empathy, and promoting lifelong learning, modern medical education strives to produce well-rounded physicians who are not only clinically competent but also benevolent and adaptable.

As we continue to innovate and refine medical education, our collective goal remains unwavering: to enhance patient outcomes and improve healthcare delivery through the education of skilled, ethical, and empathetic healthcare professionals. Medical schools must maintain their relevance and progressiveness by integrating such innovative curricular reforms.

Dr Catherine Gathu is an Assistant Professor, the Department of Family Medicine, and a Medical Educator in the newly launched Undergraduate Medical Education programme, at Aga Khan University, Medical College, East Africa.

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