Medical education in Southeast Asia: emerging issues, challenges and opportunities

Med Educ. 2005 Aug;39(8):829-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2929.2005.02229.x.


Context: Medical education in Southeast Asian countries is undergoing rapid changes, with the realignment of medical schools' curricula to meet national needs and priorities, the adoption of and experimentation with innovations, and greater emphasis on staff development initiatives. The Medical Education Unit of the National University of Singapore undertook a project to compile the educational processes taking place in these medical schools.

Method: This was a process-focused initiative. We developed a custom-made questionnaire that emphasised narrative description. We compiled profiles of 30 selected medical schools in the Southeast Asian region and, after editing and review, published these profiles. This report summarises the key findings from the project.

Findings: Medical schools in Southeast Asia are in a dynamic state. Schools are gradually adopting student-centred learning approaches, including problem-based learning. Many schools offer their students early clinical training, opportunities for out-of-hospital postings, and student-selected electives. Multiple-choice questions and oral examinations are almost universally used in student assessment. Portfolios and self- and peer-assessments are seldom used. Major challenges faced by the schools involve shortages of qualified staff and financial constraints. Major goals for the future include the implementation of student-centred learning, the revamping of the assessment process, and staff training.

Conclusions: This is a compilation of self-reported profiles of selected medical schools where we encouraged self-reflection and analysis. As with other surveys, there could be potential self-selection bias. Nevertheless, the profiles of these selected schools provide a broad overview of the status of medical schools in Southeast Asia.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asia, Southeastern
  • Curriculum / trends
  • Education, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Education, Medical / trends
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Faculty / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration
  • Schools, Medical / trends
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching