Education And Debate

Continuing medical education: a personal view

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 15 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:994
  1. T M Hayes, dean of postgraduate studiesa
  1. a Department of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff CF4 4XN
  • Accepted 2 February 1995

Over many generations doctors have kept up to date in ways which reflect their own learning styles. The current fashion for formalised and policed continuing medical education may prove ineffective unless it is recognised that individual needs must be taken into account. Attendance at formal courses based on lectures and papers may not suit a large proportion of those who attend to acquire the necessary points to satisfy their royal college. The ability to show that health care teams are up to date should come from effective clinical audit, which should also identify local educational needs.

Medical education is in turmoil. The General Medical Council is rightly pushing universities to bring their undergraduate curriculums into line with the proposals that the council first made in 1980 (and they were hardly revolutionary then). Postgraduate education has seen greater changes in the past few years than in the 30 or so since the Christchurch conference of 1961, and with the implementation of the Calman proposals for a shorter structured training it will continue to change for at least the next five years. The third phase of medical education—continuing medical education or continuing professional development—has joined the turmoil in the past year or so, but some of the proponents of important changes in this area seem to be working from the premise that continuing medical education is new. Continuing medical education has been with us as long as there has been a medical profession. The provision of some central continuing medical education meetings has been recognised as a function of the royal colleges for decades and, in the case of the older colleges, centuries. Locally organised continuing medical education started with the development of local medical societies in the 19th century and became an integral part of medical life throughout Britain with the …

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