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September 10, 2012

International medical education standards

One of the most interesting themes at AMEE this year was the upsides and downsides of international standardization of medical education. China is becoming a medical education powerhouse (we've hosted several Chinese med ed scholars recently and have been working with PUMC. Most of the talk I heard was about med ed life in the UK which, with its increasingly diverse patient and medical student populations, is struggling to balance the reliability of standardization with the validity of variability.

To my ear, it seems a fascinating question: How variable should medical care be? Minimum competency standards are obviously necessary, of course. But beyond that: are communication skills not one-size-fits all? How about risk management and the aggression of treatments? The amount of high-cost testing and aversion of false-positive vs. false negative diagnoses? Our quest for finding an "optimal" approach to these things and trying to line all the doctors up on the global maximum may be wrong-headed: perhaps a culturally-diverse patient population requires a medically-diverse medical culture.

UPDATE: This just came into my inbox: The Malaysian Prime Minister is worried that their medical schools are not rigorous enough.

"Malaysia requires the services of healthcare providers who are well trained and well mannered. They must be beyond reproach. They must be professionals who are ethical and put the welfare and care of their patients above everything else," he said.

Standards are good. But obviously not everything.

Plus I love the "beyond reproach" part. We can dream, can't we?

Posted by rbrent at September 10, 2012 06:48 AM


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