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2011 Question of the Year

Kanter, Steven L. MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318205fe36
From the Editor

A number of leaders in academic medicine have been calling for better alignment between medical education and health care needs.

This call for reform can be heard around the world and across the continuum of medical education. For example, Skochelak1 identified “alignment [of medical education] with changes in the health care delivery system” as a major theme in her analysis of 15 reports that call for change in medical education. Ferry and Williamson2 focused on the alignment of medical education with the need for community-based primary care in New Zealand. Stevens et al.3 addressed the alignment of residency education with patient care. And Berwick and Finkelstein4 asked about changes in medical education that will “produce the largest gains in health.”

It is in this spirit that I invite responses to my 2011 Question of the Year: What improvements in medical education will lead to better health for individuals and populations?

In the context of this question, medical education refers to the full continuum of educational activities aimed at medical students, residents, and physicians. It does not refer to patient education or health literacy initiatives, nor to the relationship between an individual's educational level and his or her health outcomes.

I invite responses to the 2011 Question of the Year in the form of an essay with a maximum of 750 words and no more than three references. I welcome submissions about either new ideas or existing approaches that have been implemented anywhere in the world and that shed light on the relationship between medical education and better health.

If a submission is based on an existing program, it must be more than a program description or promotional piece. Authors of such submissions may wish to explore why, and to what degree, the existing program has been effective, how it could be or should be expanded in scope, what kinds of barriers have precluded broader application, how it could evolve into a better program, what advantages have accrued to individuals and society, and, especially, how it advances our understanding of the relationship between medical education and improved health.

Anyone is eligible to submit an essay (i.e., one does not need to have a formal role at a medical school or teaching hospital), and an individual may be an author or coauthor of more than one essay.

The guidelines of this journal's “Complete Instructions for Authors” ( should be followed to determine eligibility for authorship. The deadline for submitting an essay is May 1, 2011. All essays must be written in English and submitted through the journal's Web-based manuscript submission system (; there is a special category on the submission form, Response to 2011 Question of the Year.

The journal's professional editorial staff and editorial board will work with me to select the most outstanding essays, which will be published later this year in the journal. We will choose essays that present responses to the 2011 Question of the Year that are creative, imaginative, innovative, and feasible.

Developing a better understanding of the link between medical education and the health of individuals and populations is a challenge that is shared by all medical educators around the world, no matter which country or health system they work in. Thus, advances in our understanding of this link have the potential to lead to wide-spread, real, and immediate health benefits.

We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have been calling for better alignment of medical education with the health needs of society. But now it is time to turn this call for change into a clamor for action. Please share your ideas by submitting a response to the 2011 Question of the Year.

Steven L. Kanter, MD

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1Skochelak SE. A decade of reports calling for change in medical education: What do they say? Acad Med. 2010;85:(9 suppl):S26–S33. Accessed November 8, 2010.
2Farry P, Williamson M. Aligning medical education with the healthcare needs of the population. New Zealand Med J. 2004;117.–1204/1114/. Accessed November 8, 2010.
3Stevens DP, Holland GJ, KIzer KW. Results of a nationwide Veterans Affairs initiative to align graduate medical education and patient care. JAMA. 2001;286:1061–1066.
4Berwick DM, Finkelstein JA. Preparing medical students for the continual improvement of health and health care: Abraham Flexner and the new “public interest.” Acad Med. 2010;85(9 suppl):S56–S65. Accessed November 8, 2010.
© 2011 Association of American Medical Colleges