The international dimensions of medical educationn.57, 2013, pp.2536-2538, DOI: 10.4487/medchir2013-57-4


Designing medical curricula and syllabi with the international milieu in mind

Present-day medical education has become, organisationally speaking, a rather complex affair involving, besides other factors, a high degree of responsibility towards the international community. For quite some time now the essential parameters which governed the training of medical doctors in the past have changed, so that it is now mandatory that those entrusted with medical pedagogy or with organisational tasks within the medical training sphere, be perfectly attuned to the importance of the internationalisation of both educational processes and modern scientific research methods.

In other words, it is no longer conceivable, nowadays, to design didactic, curricular and methodological teaching/learning programs without reference to the world at large. It is to this international milieu that scientific associations like the “Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE)” belong; AMEE addresses matters of medical teaching with the utmost methodological and scholarly rigour that has nothing to envy the achievements of other international scientific associations which cater for medical issues and scientific research within the many disciplinary areas of medicine and the fields of scientific research most closely associated with them.

AMEE: Europe’s most important international association (

AMEE ( is undoubtedly Europe’s most important international association, as far as the service it offers its members, the number of its associates, and the high scientific standard of its conferences and the publications issued by the conferences, are concerned.

All AMEE members receive, free of charge, 12 issues per annum of the scholarly “Medical Teacher” journal, obtain special rates permitting them to attend the annual conventions and purchase the AMEE guides, free subscription to “MedEdWorld” and, finally, the right to vote at the general assembly held annually within the ambit of the AMEE international convention.

The AMEE journal, “Medical Teacher”, is a periodical devoted to medical pedagogy, and addresses colleagues involved in teaching within the medical field. It latest “impact factor” (2011) was calculated at 1,217.

The AMEE conventions are its true force. The 2012 was held in Lyon last August and attracted 3,500 participants from all over the world. During these annual conferences it is possible to be informed of all the latest developments within the area of medical and health-care teaching; furthermore, it is also possible to share resources and experiences, in a friendly international context of the highest level. AMEE 2013 will be held in Prague from the 24th. to the 28th. of August 2013 (Fig. 1).

Of particular interest are the “AMEE Guides”, based on “Best Evidence Medical Education”, a veritable practical “how-to-do-it” guide to specific topics regarding the medical and health-care professions. These guides are easy to access through the AMEE website.

MedEdWorld – A Global on-line Medical Education Community (

MedEdWorld ( is an international network (organised and established recently under the patronage of the AMEE) which provides faculties of medicine and surgery, teachers and students from all over the world, with direct access to innovative ideas and experiences regarding the field of medical education.

The network also permits teachers and students to collaborate directly with a view to developing good medical techning/earning practices through access to specific literature, to international good practice experiences, thanks to an important and highly qualified international teaching/learning on-line system.

MedEdWorld not only provides access to information, but, above all, it offers ample possibilities to collaborate at international level on issues regarding developments within the field of medical pedagogy. It is, therefore, possible to obtain information about conventions and take part directly in international conferences and meetings dealing with medical pedagogy (availing of synchronous web streaming in the case of more important venues), gain direct access to scientific articles and international books addressing international themes, participate in and make contributions to interactive on-line and face-to-face courses, round tables and study groups dealing with specific issues. Furthermore, there is also the possibility to be continually updated concerning new applicative technologies, skill labs, and obtain information about international work opportunities.

The general principles that regulate the activities run by MedEdWorld may be summed up essentially in the terms “collegiality” (related to the possibility of taking part in the offer provided to all medical schools worldwide who wish to join the project) “equity” (referred to fee differentiation based on the effective economic possibility of the single teachers, students and institutions) and “collaboration” (related to the aim of sharing resources and cooperating for the common good).

The internationalisation process: an inexorable choice

As already emphasised in the premise, the evolution of the medical pedagogical sciences has become unimaginably complex in the last decade alone. Profound changes regarding, in particular (though not exclusively), the identification of the competences and skills to be included when engaged in curriculum planning, ways of testing and guaranteeing learning outcomes, new approaches to teaching and learning, assessment tools and all the myriad factors that concern, in general, teaching methods and training management within the ambit of the various courses held by schools of medicine and surgery.

Developments have reached such dimensions that they are now containable only within an international framework. Undoubtedly the changes under way are of the greatest importance to those we may call the “stakeholders” of medical education. Dent and Harden (2009) indicate six important “topics” vital to didactic renewal in the near future:

– The globalisation of healthcare delivery and the international dimensions of medical education;

– A reconceptualisation of the role of the doctor and a recognition of the importance of learning outcomes when defining curricula for the training of an appropriate workforce;

– The changing context in which clinical experience is gained;

– Continuing developments of new learning technologies and their influence on teaching and learning;

– An evolving conceptualisation of assessment and its role in curricula;

– The recognition of professionalism and scholarship in medical education.

It is interesting to note that internationalisation is the first point on this agenda of priorities. There is no doubt that the pedagogical renewal undertaken by the Italian faculties of medicine and surgery, over the past ten years, is of the highest quality and efficacy, thanks, above all, to the endeavours of the Permanent Committees of the Chairpersons of the Medical Degree Courses and the Deans of the Medical Faculties (Snelgrove et al., 2009; Gallo, 2011; Binetti et al., 2012); it is equally true that the creation of an international dimension capable of involving the students entrolled in our faculties more directly, is also of the utmost importance. It is towards the achievement of this goal that both AMEE and MedEdWorld may make the greatest and most significant contribution, something that must in no way be underrated.


1) Binetti P, Gaudio E, Lenzi A, Armocida G, Ricciardi W, Frati L. Ripensare la Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia. MedChir 54: 2399-2406, 2012.

2) Dent JH, Harden RM. A Practical Guide for Medical Teachers. Churchill Livingstone – Elsevier, 2009.

3) Gallo P. Insegnare nei corsi di laurea in medicina e odontoiatria. Espress Edizioni, Torino, 2011.

4) Snelgrove H, Familiari G, Gallo P, Gaudio G, Lenzi A, Ziparo V, Frati L. The Challenge of reform: 10 years of curricula change in Italian Medical Schools. Medical Teacher 31: 1047-1055, 2009.

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Familiari G., The international dimensions of medical education, Medicina e Chirurgia, 57: 2536-2538, 2013. DOI:  10.4487/medchir2013-57-4

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