For the past 90 and more years the Flexnerian model has dominated medical education. The single greatest influence Flexner had was to call for the integration of science to the study and practice of medicine. This model has served society well. We have seen a better perception by society of our health care practitioners, great improvements in the quality of our health care providers and significant advances in our understanding and treatment/management of health and disease.
Today, in medical education we are faced with great pressures to add more information and skill training to our curriculum. The expectations for us, as educators, and our students have increased as we have amassed greater understanding and knowledge of biomedical sciences. In addition to the ‘hard science’ knowledge, we also need to recognize and incorporate the behavioral, social and business aspects that are required for a complete medical education.
The end result is a very full and demanding curriculum of study. Holding to the traditional model of two years pre-clinical and two years of clinical study has led to a state of near exhaustion for our students. Over the decades since Flexner’s report we have revised and enhanced the clinical experiences and reformed ad nauseam the pre-clinical years. We have spent most of our efforts on the pre-clinical years with the greatest changes involving scheduling and use of various instructional strategies.
The roots of IAMSE are in the basic sciences and their relation to medical education. As medical educators we are closest to and the ones who can make a difference in the content and structure of the sciences in the medical education curriculum. IAMSE is embarking on a project to define what sciences should constitute the sciences basic to medical education and practice, the added value of the sciences in the medical education process and where and how best to provide instruction and learning of these sciences.
Obviously, this project cannot be completed without collaboration of our colleagues in the clinical sphere. To determine what sciences are needed as foundational requisites for clinical medicine, we must first define the scope and requirements for our students as they enter their clinical experiences.
To this end, IAMSE in collaboration with the Alliance for Clinical Education (ACE) and the Generalists in Medical Education will be conducting a series of meetings and workshops to address these topics. IAMSE will also be recruiting and collaborating with other professional medical education groups and associations to accomplish this project. It is our intent to present a comprehensive report at the 2010 IAMSE meeting, tentatively planned for Louisville, Kentucky, the professional home of Abraham Flexner on the 100th anniversary of his landmark report.
With the strength of IAMSE, its members, and their collective wisdom regarding the foundational sciences in medical education, we can and should take the lead in this issue. I would ask all to begin a dialogue and conduct research to address these issues. We should not limit ourselves to the role of the sciences simply in the pre-clinical years, but look to the pre-medical curriculum as well as integration in the clinical undergraduate and even the graduate clinical years. The Journal, JIAMSE, would then be the ideal place to publish your research on this topic. This July, at the annual IAMSE meeting in Cleveland, we will have a focus session workshop to begin a discussion on these issues.
As you peruse the agenda for this year’s Annual Meeting (http://www.iamse.org/conf/conf11/index.htm), you will find some very useful sessions addressing everything from instructional strategies, to assessment techniques and even a debate on the topic of medicine as a science. The session topics and posters are interesting and intriguing. This meeting is looking to be an exciting adventure with the opportunity to meet and talk with friends and colleagues from throughout the world.
With regard to other IAMSE business; after a number of years of faithful service, Regia Kreisle, Tom Schmidt and Deb Vaughn will be retiring from their IAMSE Board positions. We thank them for their contributions. Replacing them on the Board are Frazier Stevenson, John Szarek and Mark A.W. Andrews. Congratulations to these newest additions to the IAMSE Board who will assume their duties in July.
If you have not registered for the 2007 meeting in Cleveland, it is not too late. Neither is planning for the 2008 meeting in Salt Lake City. Have a relaxing summer and looking forward to seeing you all in Cleveland in July.