Six faculty members of the College of Medicine, led by Dean Alfaretta Luisa T. Reyes, attended the 8th Asia-Pacific Medical Education Conference (APMEC) held at the National University of Singapore last January 27-29, 2011)

Medical education luminaries like Dr. John J. Norcini, President and CEO of the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER), and Dr. Ronald M. Harden, General Secretary of the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE), were among the impressive roster of lecturers. Various topics including Assessment and Evaluation, Student Affairs, Teaching and Learning Activities, and Faculty and Curriculum Development were discussed. Some of the highlights of the lectures and symposia are the following:

Curriculum Development

Dr. Harden recommended rethinking how we train doctors because, with current curricula, medical education is fragmented, with the three phases (undergraduate, postgraduate, continuing medical education) functioning separately, independent of each other. This set-up is inefficient and somewhat ineffective.

To produce the doctors that society needs, the three phases have to be integrated and the third phase, Continuing Medical Education (CME), needs to be emphasized and lifelong learning be given due attention and thought. We need to develop an "Extended Curriculum," which includes all three phases and apply concepts of outcome-based education and curriculum mapping in developing this.

He also encouraged medical schools to utilize a "spiral curriculum," one in which basic ideas are revisited repeatedly, building upon them as the student goes to the higher levels of learning. One way of applying this concept is by using Team-based Learning (TBL) in the different disciplines in any year level. TBL involves dividing students into teams, giving each team a problem or case which provides opportunities to apply principles of basic science relationships, and supplying them with multiple choice options to discuss and choose from. Each team then explains its choice to the other teams.

Dr. Charles M. Wiener of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine discussed the "Genes to Society" (GTS) Curriculum, to which the Johns Hopkins SOM shifted in 2009. The impetus to change was the need to apply rapidly changing biomedical (especially genetic) knowledge. In the GTS Curriculum, students are encouraged to explore the biologic properties/ genotype of an individual in light of a larger integrated system that includes social, cultural, psychological and environmental variables.

Speakers from Asia, North America and South Africa expounded on the need to emphasize humanities, Geriatric Medicine, Professionalism and Social Accountability in the curriculum of medical schools. Studies have suggested that medical students "enter with an idealism which fades as their studies proceed; and that there is a drop in ethical standards, in part through the influence of bad role models in clinical training." Students also become more consumer-driven and isolated from community concerns. To address these, the medical curriculum should include values education and should also involve other stakeholders (e.g., government, community and other health professionals) in identifying priority health concerns to which education, research and service activities should be directed.

Basic Science Education Contributing to Clinical Practice

Bridging the cultural divide between basic and clinical sciences is often difficult. However, we should ensure that medical students are able to apply what they have learned from the basic sciences in the clinical setting. One strategy is to implement a spiral curriculum. Basic concepts should be revisited at each level and with increasing difficulty, and new learning must be related to and built upon previous learning. Further, involvement of clinicians in basic medical education ensures that medical education is competency-based and outcome-based. Indeed, clinicians can provide the bigger picture of what is expected of medical students in the clinics and can thus further ensure that basic medical education is clinically relevant.


Dr. Norcini presented the contemporary and future directions in assessment.

He stated that the four future directions in assessment are derived from the trends in medical education. These directions are: 1) Outcome-based assessment (assessment of basic medical education is key, even during the clinical years); 2) Active patient involvement in assessment; 3) Workplace-based formative assessment methods (mini-Clinical Evaluation Exercise or mCEX), Directly Observed Procedures, Case-based discussion and Peer Assessment) which ensure that clinical training is of uniform quality; and 4) Assessment of lifelong learning of doctors (with focus on patient outcomes, process of care and maintenance of certification).

Faculty Development

A special interest group led by Dr. Norcini delved on effective faculty development. Medical educators from various countries reflected and shared from experience what makes faculty development activities successful. Despite the disparity in backgrounds, most participants came up with similar answers. aside from careful planning and implementation, the key to success was the participant himself. faculty development efforts, no matter how well-planned and executed, can only be most effective if the participant is interested, invested and actively participates in the activity.

By the end of the conference, the UERMMMCI College of Medicine delegation found itself more inspired, motivated and resolute in their pursuit of excellence in medical education!

The delegates express their profound gratitude to the MAAA-Southern California Chapter and to AFUSA for the generous assistance to us for this conference.-Drs. M. C. Zulueta, M.T. Delos Santos, M.P.S. Zotomayor, R.C. Valera, M.O. Rosario and Dean A.T. Reyes


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