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Medical Education

Evolution Of The Medical Curriculum, The Traditional Curriculum, The Curriculum In Transition, The New Medical School Curricula

Evolution of the medical curriculum

The traditional curriculum

The curriculum in transition

The new medical school curricula

Attrition in medical school

Preparing for medical school

The making of a physician

United States Medical Licensing Examination

Until the early 1900s, medical education in the United States was unstructured and unregulated. A person wishing to become a doctor would usually seek some didactic training at a medical school and/or spend time as an apprentice with one or more physicians. Since a license to practice was not needed, many unqualified individuals were engaged in the healing arts. The caliber of many medical schools was also open to serious question.

In 1910, after an investigation into the state of affairs existing in medical education, Abraham Flexner proposed a program of reorganizing medical education in a way that would ensure that only qualified individuals would enter the profession. With the adoption of the Flexner report, many medical schools of borderline quality became defunct while others significantly improved their standards. Another result was that medical education became a structured four-year program consisting of two years of basic sciences or preclinical training followed by two years of clinical experience. This educational program was essentially the same in all medical schools.

To ensure the maintenance of high standards, today all medical schools must obtain and maintain legal accreditation. The status of their educational programs is periodically evaluated by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) of the Association of American Medical Colleges. This has not restricted medical schools, however, from introducing modifications in their traditional programs. The two-phase traditional program, nonetheless, still strongly influences the medical education process.

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