Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Role of Clinical Pharmacology in the Medical Curriculum

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Role of Clinical Pharmacology in the Medical Curriculum

Article excerpt

Sir - There is worldwide agreement that medical education has to evolve in order to respond to changing attitudes: it must reflect the shift from curative to preventive medicine and the need of health systems to match resources to care that is both affordable and acceptable.

Problem-based learning has replaced the classic medical curriculum of theoretical instruction followed by a period of clinical training. Now it has been suggested that the problem-based curriculum be replaced in turn by a community-based method, which concords better with a preventive approach to medicine and a higher level of care at less cost to the health care system. Changes will therefore be required in medical schools, emphasizing disciplines that will serve society's interests and expectations perhaps better than previously.

One option concerns the role of clinical pharmacology. This relatively recent discipline was developed because of the realization that the safe and effective use of the increasing number of drugs being used in clinical practice could be greatly improved by scientific study and teaching. It is interdisciplinary and aims to increase knowledge through research and to pass on such knowledge -- clearly the functions of a medical school. Clinical pharmacology should therefore be inserted into the university structure. In 1970 a WHO study group, considering that special training and experience were necessary to conduct studies on the effects of new drugs in man, proposed that clinical pharmacology units could be started within existing clinical or pharmacology departments, and could perhaps develop into independent departments (1). …

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