Medical Education: Developing a Curriculum for Practice

Medical Education: Developing a Curriculum for Practice

Medical Education: Developing a Curriculum for Practice

Medical Education: Developing a Curriculum for Practice


What are the contemporary problems facing curriculum designers and developers? What are the key questions that ought to be addressed with regard to curriculum design for medical practice? How might a curriculum for practice in medical education be developed? Medical Education offers a detailed response to these questions and shows what form a curriculum for practice should take and how one can be developed. These ideas are presented in a highly practical and readable account that is essential reading for those involved in educating the doctors of the future and for policy makers in the field of medical education. It also offers useful advice for those in related fields of health care. The authors show that recent developments of curricula for postgraduate doctors have been founded on the misguided view (promoted by politicians and policy makers) that medical practice is routine, straightforward and able to be reduced to simple protocols that professionals must learn and follow. In this view, doctors are technicians who need merely to be trained through a simple curriculum. In contrast, this book shows that the practice of medicine as experienced by working doctors is complex, uncertain and unpredictable. This requires a curriculum that provides the opportunity to learn to exercise professional judgement and make decisions based on practical wisdom.


We believe that initiatives in the early years of the twenty-first century to develop postgraduate medical education in the UK, under the title Modernising Medical Careers, have merits and provide considerable possibilities for growth. We believe particularly that the move to locate the education of doctors (including their assessment) in the practice setting is vitally important. However, the scheme urgently needs a more coherent, articulated curriculum framework, and a sounder educational underpinning, than it currently has in the Curriculum for the Foundation Years in Postgraduate Education and Training (Department of Health DoH 2005b). Indeed, we fear that both it, and all other versions of curriculum design for postgraduate medicine as they emerge in the early years of the twenty-first century, will short-change an entire professional generation of doctors in respect of their true educational entitlement. This is because we believe that, in its current and now definitive form the Curriculum for the Foundation Years is in danger of setting an inappropriate example for other postgraduate curricula, which will soon begin to emerge as this decade progresses.

Our task in this book therefore is to provide readers with the principles, processes, components and understanding that are necessary to build and to develop postgraduate medical curricula which will guide sound education in the practice setting and which will be robust and rigorous. In short, we outline here the basis for gaining expertise in the practice of curriculum design and development in postgraduate medical education.

Our main focus

Our focus is on postgraduate medicine and its context within the UK (and particularly hospital medicine rather than primary care), because it is a unique case of curriculum development which shares principles with such . . .

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