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Medical education is education related to the practice of being a medical practitioner, either the initial training to become a doctor (i.e., medical school and internship) or additional training thereafter (e.g., residency and fellowship).

Medical education and training varies considerably across the world. Various teaching methodologies have been utilised in medical education, which is an active area of educational research.[1]

Entry-level education[]

Main article: Medical school

Entry-level medical education programs are tertiary-level courses undertaken at a medical school. Depending on jurisdiction and university, these may be either undergraduate-entry (most of Europe, India, China), or graduate-entry programs (mainly Australia and Canada), or second entry degrees (United States).

Generally, initial training is taken at medical school. Traditionally initial medical education is divided between preclinical and clinical studies. The former consists of the basic sciences such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, pathology. The latter consists of teaching in the various areas of clinical medicine such as internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery. Increasingly, however, medical programs are using systems-based curricula in which learning is integrated, and several institutions do this.

There has been a proliferation of programmes that combine medical training with research (MD PhD) or management programmes (MD MBA), although this has been criticised.[2]

Post-graduate education[]

Following completion of entry-level training, newly graduated doctors are often required to undertake a period of supervised practice before full registration is granted; this is most often of one year duration and may be referred to as "internship" or "provisional registration" or "residency".

Further training in a particular field of medicine may be undertaken. In some jurisdictions this is commenced immediately following completion of entry-level training, whilst other jurisdictions require junior doctors to undertake generalist (unstreamed) training for a number of years before commencing specialisation.

Increasingly education theory itself is becoming an integral part of postgraduate medical training. Formal qualifications in education are becoming the norm for Medical School educators who are becoming increasingly accountable for their students.

Continuing Medical Education[]

Continuing Medical Education or CME courses are required for continued licensing. CME requirements vary by state. Accreditation is overseen by the ACCME.

Medical Education Online (Medical e-Learning)[]

Increasingly, Medical Education around the world is being supported by online teaching, usually within Learning Management Systems (LMSs) or Virtual Learning Environment (VLEs). Research areas into online medical education are wide-ranging, and include:[3][4]

  • The roles of the participants (student, teacher, administrators)
  • Content generation, especially in a wide range of media
  • The use of LMSs, VLEs and other systems, and open-source vs. proprietary, methods of interaction
  • The use online medication education in Problem-Based Learning (PBL)
  • Practical applications, virtual patients
  • Distance learning
  • Assessment
  • Electronic Portfolios (e-Portfolios)
  • Mobile Learning (M-Learning)
  • Problems with technology
  • Accessibility
  • The Politics and Psychology of e-learning
  • Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Economics
  • Design Issues
  • Standards and Specifications

Example of medical education systems[]

Presently, in England, a typical medicine course at university is 5 years or 4 years if the student already holds a degree. Amongst some institutions and for some students, it may be 6 years (including the selection of an intercalated BSc—taking one year—at some point after the pre-clinical studies). All programs culminate in the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree (abbreviated MB BChir, BM BCh, MB BCh, MB ChB, BM BS, MB BS etc.). This is followed by 2 clinical foundation years afterwards, namely F1 and F2 similar to internship training. Students register with the UK General Medical Council at the end of F1. At the end of F2, they may pursue further years of study.

In the US and Canada, a potential medical student must first complete an undergraduate degree in any subject before applying to a graduate medical school to pursue an (M.D. or D.O.) program. Some students opt for the research-focused MD/PhD dual degree, which is usually completed in 7–8 years. There are certain courses which are pre-requisite for being accepted to medical school, such as general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, English, labwork, etc. The specific requirements vary by school.

In Australia, there are two pathways to a medical degree. Students can choose to take a five or six year undergraduate medical degree Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS or BMed) straight from high school, or complete a bachelors degree (generally three years, usually in the medical sciences) and then apply for a four year graduate entry Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) program.


  • Medical education in China
  • Medical education in Australia
  • Medical education in Canada
  • Medical education in the United Kingdom
  • Medical education in the United States
  • Medical College (India)
  • Medical education in Hong Kong
  • Medical education in the Philippines
  • Medical education in South Africa

See also[]


  1. Flores-Mateo G, Argimon JM (26 July 2007). Evidence based practice in postgraduate healthcare education: a systematic review. BMC Health Serv Res 7: 119.
  2. Dyrbye LN, Thomas MR, Natt N, Rohren CH (2007). Prolonged delays for research training in medical school are associated with poorer subsequent clinical knowledge. J Gen Intern Med 22: 1101.
  3. Ellaway R, Masters K. (2008). AMEE Guide 32: e-Learning in medical education Part 1: Learning, teaching and assessment. Med Teach 30 (5): 455–473.
  4. Masters K, Ellaway R (2008). e-Learning in medical education Guide 32 Part 2: Technology, management and design. Med Teach 30 (5): 474–489.

Graduate education

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