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Educación Médica

Print version ISSN 1575-1813

Educ. méd. vol.11 n.1  Mar. 2008




Outcome-based medical education. I. Basic principles and advantages

Educación médica basada en resultados. I. Principios básicos y ventajas



A. Wojtczak




The issue of Medical Teacher [1] them to the outcome-based education (OBE) presents a huge progress made in an introduction of this model in increasing number of medical schools and countries. Being one of the active proponents of this very demanding and innovative process, deeply changing medical education, provoked me to share with you some thoughts on this fascinating approach.

There is no doubt, even if we invoke some educators who were in past presenting this idea, that the merit of path tracer of the outcome-base medical education goes to Ron Harden [2], who already in 1999 formulated its basic principles. The essence of OBE is that the education or training is defined by set of learning outcomes indicating the professional competences that should be possessed by time of assessment. They should clearly state what knowledge students are expected to learn and what are expected to do. The OBE reflects a switch from an emphasis on process, where what matters are the teaching and learning methods, to quality of product, where the emphasis is on the competences that are expected from graduates or doctors. In traditional approach courses are defined in terms of their duration, specification of content and the forms of teaching, and is not said what skills or knowledge students should acquire from given course. It questions the validity of many issues we teach and ways how we teach. It is important to add that the OBE model does not itself resolve disputes about content and what should be included in a core curriculum, but it indicates, however, what issues need to be addressed when planning the content of curriculum and teaching methods. The OBE also permits on the monitoring of a student's progress through the different phases of the curriculum and also in the planning for a continuum between undergraduate education and postgraduate education. Adopted assessment methods must reflect the agreed learning outcomes and should inform as to whether a student has or has not achieved the stated outcomes. They can include written assessments such as multiple choice questions, extended matching items, performance assessments such as the OSCE, structured observations and portfolios. They should be able to assess medical students' competencies in areas that have not traditionally been taken in account such as professionalism, life-long learning, self-awareness and personal growth, moral reasoning and clinical ethics. In an assessment process, the greater responsibility is given to the students to demonstrate that they have achieved the necessary outcomes. A key element in the assessment process is the feedback of information that must be provided to the student as to their level of achievement in relation to each of the outcomes.

After completing, the assessment of the global medical essential requirements (GMER) in 8 leading medical uni-versities in China, I have no doubt that it is the most suitable way of "putting medical education on the right track" and to break the never ending discussions about number of hours and sequence of various discipline to be included in medical curricula, and focus on the graduates' competences. It is a best evidence of quality of medical school educational achievements. When reading with a deep interest and pleasure this most interesting volume, of Medical Teacher, I am even more convinced that the outcome-based medical education is a right answer to present challenges of medical education and with satisfaction I must say that OBE has started to be rooted deeper and broader in educational programs of medical schools in different parts of the world.



1. Harden RM. Outcome-based education: the future is today. Medical Teacher 2007; 29: 625-9.        [ Links ]

2. Director of Education for the International Virtual Medical School (IVIMEDS), General Secretary of the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) and Editor of Medical Teacher; formerly Director of the Centre for Medical Education, Postgraduate Dean and Teaching Dean at University of Dundee, UK.        [ Links ]

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