Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews Personal view

Medical education must be more patient centred to be relevant

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 12 October 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:813
  1. Caroline Wellbery, assistant professor (
  1. family medicine, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

    Abrowse through medical schools' mission statements shows that the goals of medical education can be summarised as “the pursuit of health in the service of society” (BMC Medical Education 2001;1: 4). Despite this service oriented purpose students often challenge the relevance of what they learn. Students' concerns about relevance may target a particular science course such as histology or a wider societal perspective, such as learning about health policy. Emotional, interpersonal, subjective topics are particularly vulnerable to challenge (Academic Medicine 2002;78: 372-80). For example, at a focus group on the role of the humanities in medical education one student complained: “We just spent way too much time on [palliative care]. As I look through my notes I came up with about 5 minutes of information from a two hour class.” The lecture in question, which had concentrated on grief, loss, and care giving, was relevant to the student only for its clinical …

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