International medical education and future directions: a global perspective

Acad Med. 2006 Dec;81(12 Suppl):S22-9. doi: 10.1097/01.ACM.0000243411.19573.58.


Internationalization, one of the most important forces in higher education today, presents a powerful challenge and an opportunity for medical schools. Factors encouraging internationalization include (1) globalization of health care delivery, (2) governmental pressures, (3) improved communication channels, (4) development of a common vocabulary, (5) outcome-based education and standards, (6) staff development initiatives, and (7) competitiveness and commercialization. A three-dimensional model--based on the student (local or international), the teacher (local or international), and the curriculum (local, imported, or international)-offers a range of perspectives for international medical education. In the traditional approach to teaching and learning medicine, local students and local teachers use a local curriculum. In the international medical graduate or overseas student model, students from one country pursue in another country a curriculum taught and developed by teachers in the latter. In the branch-campus model, students, usually local, have an imported curriculum taught jointly by international and local teachers. The future of medical education, facilitated by the new learning technologies and pedagogies, lies in a move from such international interconnected approaches, which emphasize the mobility of students, teachers, and curriculum across the boundaries of two countries, to a transnational approach in which internationalization is integrated and embedded within a curriculum and involves collaboration between a number of schools in different countries. In this approach, the study of medicine is exemplified in the global context rather than the context of a single country. The International Virtual Medical School serves as an example in this regard.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum / standards
  • Curriculum / trends
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Education, Medical / standards
  • Education, Medical / trends*
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Foreign Medical Graduates / standards*
  • Foreign Medical Graduates / trends
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • International Educational Exchange
  • Models, Educational*
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical