An experiment: without any deliberation, write down what immediately comes to mind when you hear the phrase “medical education.” Ask a number of colleagues to do the same and compare answers. The results are likely to be very disparate, depending perhaps on career stage, or even more on the types of teaching activities in which each person is engaged. This is one of the challenges of medical education research: it is extremely diverse.
The major contributor to this diversity is that the research is focused on a variety of levels of training, meaningful outcomes, and perspectives. For example, the objectives and techniques of education are often substantively different for medical students, residents, fellows, and practicing physicians. Outcomes examined may be approaches to delivering knowledge or facilitating learning, but may also be ways to improve assessment of learning or the effects of learning on patient care. Studies may address understanding and improving medical school admission or may instead look at how an admissions process can lead to changes in the composition of the physician workforce. While most research deals with issues related to learners, there is an increasing interest in investigating the rewards and competing stresses of faculty.
Golub RM. Containing Multitudes: Medical Education 2013. JAMA. 2013;310(21):2259–2261. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.283429
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