ABSTRACT: A retrospective and prospective look at medical education in the United States: trends shaping anatomical sciences education
During the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century, curricular reform has been a popular theme. In fact, reform on the current scale has not occurred since the early 1900s, when Abraham Flexner released his landmark report ‘Medical Education in the United States and Canada’. His report, suggesting major changes in how physicians were educated, became the norm and few changes occurred until the last quarter of the 20th century. During this period increased demands on medical school curriculums due to the explosion of knowledge in biomedical sciences and the pressure to add additional clinical experiences increased the momentum for curriculum reform. In 1984 an Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) report, ‘Physicians for the Twenty-First Century: The Report of the Panel on the General Professional Education of the Physician (GPEP) and College Preparation for Medicine’, discussed many items related to reforming medical education including the value of integration, increased use of active learning formats, more self-directed learning, improved communication skills and increased problem-solving activities. This was followed by a report released in 1993 entitled ‘Educating Medical Students: Assessing Change in Medical Education – The Road to Implementation’ (ACME-TRI), which identified educational problems by surveying medical school deans, suggested ways to deal with these issues and presented a plan of action. Recently, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released ‘Education Physicians: A Call for Reform of Medical School and Residency’ with additional suggestions. At this point the question that might be asked is – Where is all this going and how is it going to affect anatomy education?