Abstract
VERTICAL INTEGRATION IN MEDICAL EDUCATION- ARE WE ON RIGHT TRACK?

Balaji Arumugam* and Saranya Nagalingam

ABSTRACT

Medical education is changing rapidly, with the need for integrated teaching focusing on implementing horizontal and/or vertical curricular integration.Vertical integration is defined as the integration between the clinical and Basic sicience areas of medical curriculum. It can be initiated throughout the curriculum beginning in early years and continuing till the students complete their course. Integration of different fields of medicine starting from basic to clinical sciences will impart the long term application of their knowledge and stimulate their higher order thinking skills. The classical and most cited Working definition adopted for vertical integration was “[the] coordinated, purposeful, planned system of linkages and activities in the delivery of education and training throughout the continuum of the learner’s stages of medical education.[1] So introduction of vertical integration in medical curriculum may be considered as one of the major reforms to prepare better physicians/clinicians for the next century.[2] Vertical integration between basic sciences and clinical medicine has been found to stimulate profound rather than superficial learning, and thereby results in better understanding of important biomedical principles.[3] Vertical integration improves motivation, enhances deep learning, prepares for lifelong learning, facilitates curricular reforms, ensures good clinical practice and enhances application and research. Although the move towards vertical integration is gathering momentum world-wide, the process of change will be relatively difficult in institutions with established curricula mainly, because it needs to change the mindset of the faculty. Negative faculty attitudes can present a significant barrier to integration and an open line of communication between basic science and clinical disciplines may combat the perception that basic sciences are irrelevant to clinical practice and encourage vertical integration.[4] In recent years such curricula have been employed by faculties of many medical schools throughout the world,and in fact WHO supports the integration of outcome and competency based strategies and student centered approaches in learning process.[5] Of course, medical education in India is also undergoing major changes and our medical council of India medical curriculum supports the student centered approach and shifting towards competency based learning. The author of this article working as MEU member in a private medical college and trained in medical education is interested in presenting some of the guidelines for vertical integration program for medical students after extensive discussion with resource persons and as well as the student representatives.

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