Themes of medical education research

From a content analysis on 10.168 abstracts extracted from the six most influential journals in medical education published since 1988, 29 major themes were identified for research in this field.
In short most of the themes were about the preparation of medical students for professional practice. From the analysis the following topics were the most prominent: student assessment, clinical and communication skills, clinical clerkships, and problem based learning. Declining themes were multiple choice examinations and computer-assisted instruction

The authors conducted this research based on curiosity but also about which topics are increasing and which show a decline in the last 20 years. Were these themes really a priority and which topics haven’t been covered the last years?

Missing was research on optimizing study duration by experimenting with examination systems, is it possible to train doctors in a shorter time, is it possible to involve lesser trained doctors? Do we need academic hospitals in training doctors? They usually only treat complicated highly selected patients, shouldn’t there be more emphasis on primary care during medical clerkship?

Critics on the state of the art in medical education research

The suggestion is that we should be more rigorous than we are. Use less self-report instruments and more measures of actual performance. Experiment rather than observe…….it studies the relative effectiveness of existing approaches rather than to discover new ones

The University of Maastricht published the highest number of publications on medical education and four Dutch authors are amongst the first 6 authors who contributed the most articles to the field of medical education.
Rotgans, J. (2011). The themes, institutions, and people of medical education research 1988–2010: content analysis of abstracts from six journals Advances in Health Sciences Education DOI: 10.1007/s10459-011-9328-x