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Medical Education Research: Optimising The Educational Ecosystem

In current trends and approaches to global needs, it is undeniable that our science and tech-world has been growing rapidly. our future.

However, situations like our recent COVID-19 pandemic proves a point and urgency to us that now we do not only need technologies to evolve but indeed, our medical education has to equally develop to bring out the best cohesive healthcare system for our future.

The medical education research field can be said to be one that has remained to be disputable, however, our focus here would be to analyse if research has contributed in improving our medical education system, as well as the aspects and approaches adhered to in order to optimise the quality of medical education, and shape the future of the medical education research.

What is Medical Education?

Evidence, theory and practice are the fundamentals in medical education, and the ultimate aim is to provide our society with a knowledgeable, skilled and up-to-date team of professionals. However, in order to achieve this aim, extensive research on our medical education has to be conducted first. Medical education research has changed from traditionally being descriptive studies towards now being a more justified curriculum of comparison studies. Through these researches and evidences, there have been huge increases in the number of scientific journals with various inputs from participants all around the world, and now we also have an increasing number of candidates with a career as medical education researchers. But are all these sufficient for us, or do we still need to evolve?

Has the medical education system improved over the years through research?

Certainly, there have been huge improvements and developments which have fostered a better medical education system through various researches over the decades. NUMed’s researches have evolved to provide the best-evidence medical education and these evolving changes are a necessity, especially to cater to our current 21st century learners. New research findings have been adopted in a way that it is able to deliver quality curriculums to medical education learners with various modernised and innovative technologies.

On the other hand, if we take into account the healthcare systems that have been tremendously challenging, changes have surely been reflected in a way that we are now able to produce competent healthcare professionals and workforce in this field. The new research discoveries and deliveries have helped us to stay current with the latest developments, refine skills to improve overall patient care and gain professional growth in our medical field

Optimising the quality of medical education?

Measuring the quality or the degree of excellence of a certain standard can be very subjective as it varies between different fields and systems. Nevertheless, there are certain aspects which we can consider in delivering quality medical education.

According to Dr Bhavani Veasuvalingam, one of NUMed’s medical education researcher, “in order to provide quality medical education, it has to firstly be relevant to the current 21st century society. Therefore, the programmes in medical education have to be able to cater to Generation Z and has to be one that responds to the economical, technological and societal shifts which are happening at an ever-increasing pace.”

Some aspects to optimise the quality of medical education research includes providing best-evidence medical practices through integrating technologies within the teaching and learning strategies. The best evidences from scientific research, descriptive and qualitative methods and information from case reports bring cohesiveness to our system.

Moreover, integrated curriculums that connect various areas of study to unify concepts helps learners as well as academics to focus in making relevant real-life issues which will contribute in enhancing a better medical educational ecosystem. Historically, these are the aspects that define a quality medical education, and most universities today are moving forward in adhering to these concepts.

Recently, there has been a shift from conducting conventional class learning systems to now online learning strategies due to the lockdown imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on Dr Bhavani’s observation, she says that “there were many challenges faced in conducting effective online learning strategies, nonetheless, adhering to the current context and landscape of the medical education research course, devising structured virtual learning opportunities, and providing timely, relevant and actionable feedback has still been able to optimise our medical education despite the limitations.”

The future of medical education research?

The medical education research has immensely contributed to the development in our medical field to a large extent. However, as medical education research progresses to a field that is more global in nature, there are possibilities of challenges to this industry. Therefore, it is important to note that medical education researchers should not only be focusing on growing in numbers, but to also acquire diversity in scientific backgrounds in order to solve more complex issues that are always on the rise.

In addition to this, medical education research should also be able to focus and conduct extensive research about social science and qualitative methodologies so that they will be able to coincide with society at present. More importantly, academics should focus on teaching skills and not just facts to learners, thus, making room for them to develop new contents for the advancement of our community.

Medical Education Research is one of the three themes of research that are offered in Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed). The research team now comprises of researchers from both the UK and Malaysia.

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published on: 18 December 2020