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January 27, 1984

Hippocrates Unbound: China's Medical Education for the 1980s

Author Affiliations

Dr Fox was formerly a grantee of the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China, National Academy of Sciences.

JAMA. 1984;251(4):490-494. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340280040025

Working in a Beijing hospital for two years (1979 to 1981), I witnessed a metamorphosis of medical education in China. Walls have been whitewashed to mask discredited slogans of the past. Dining halls have been stratified to separate faculty, workers, and students. Since 1976, the academic program has doubled in length. Since 1979, revitalized basic science departments have enrolled postgraduates. "Worker-peasant-soldier" graduates of 1975 to 1980 have been recalled for remedial courses. Physicians from outlying provinces now staff city hospitals for terms of "advanced study." Barefoot doctors, highly regarded five years ago (but now considered to be only temporary expedients), face proficiency examinations. Doctors with shoes are also newly concerned about professional standards. Since 1977, prospective medical students take a nationwide entrance examination. Medical colleges now maintain transcripts and confer degrees. House staff, graduates of as long ago as 1964, are preparing for board examinations. Educational policy since 1977 is a determined reversal of trends of the preceding ten years.

(JAMA 1984;251:490-494)