Medical education dilemma: How can we best accommodate basic sciences in a curriculum for 21st century medical students? 1

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2019 Apr;97(4):293-296. doi: 10.1139/cjpp-2018-0428. Epub 2018 Nov 6.


Over the years, the medical curriculum has been changed to accommodate a variety of evolving disciplines and an exploding scientific knowledge of the basic sciences to prepare "a competent physician" of the 21st century. Therefore, we must be innovative in our approach of curricular development if we wish to continue to incorporate new basic sciences knowledge in the face of decreasing contact hours to satisfy the buzz word, "integration". Certainly, the challenges are phenomenal. The question how to best integrate basic sciences, is not easy to answer as the objectives of the courses and outcome vary from one medical school to another and the fact is, one size does not fit all. However, if we believe that basic sciences are the language of medicine and foundation of clinical knowledge, then we must resolve this ongoing dilemma by introducing basic sciences through a better alignment in a given curriculum. The purpose of this review is to evaluate different curricular models for their basic sciences content and address their strengths and weaknesses. In addition, we will introduce a spiral design to integrate basic sciences for senior students. Finally, we will provide some insight as to how learning and retention of basic science content can be sustained.

Keywords: content of basic sciences; contenu en sciences fondamentales; enseignement de la médecine; integration to clerkship phase; intégration aux programmes de stages cliniques; medical education; new curriculum; nouveau curriculum.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Students, Medical*