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From the Editor

Addressing Comparisons, Connections, and Collaborations in Medical Education to Enhance Health Across the World Through New Conversations: A Guest Editorial

Weinstein, Debra F. MD

Author Information
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001166
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The New Conversations topic introduced by Dr. Sklar in this issue1 comes at a pivotal time for medical education around the globe. Today’s “flat” world creates new challenges for human health along with new possibilities for enhancing health care. Disease outbreaks can spread more distantly more quickly, refugee crises outstrip resources for providing care, and global warming and other environmental scourges threaten health without regard to national borders.

At the same time there is evidence of widespread interest in addressing health on a larger scale—caring for populations as well as individuals, and without regard for geographic boundaries. Global health has become a familiar component of medical school and residency curricula; both new and experienced clinicians increasingly pursue international experiences; and trans-continental institutional partnerships are forging new types of collaboration.

Medical education, however, hasn’t fully leveraged our interconnected world. Though countries educate their health care providers to work in vastly different settings with distinct challenges, there is nevertheless a common core of clinical competencies that we share as endpoints. Yet, systems for training physicians and other health professionals remain siloed, with little knowledge about different approaches used around the world—much less comparisons among them to identify effective strategies and methods.

In addition to learning more from each other, we can share more with each other. The greater use of individual, computer-based learning in medical education means that wealthier nations have created reams of lectures and learning modules that could be shared with the developing world. Reciprocal benefits can accrue by incorporating case content from developing countries (including teleconferenced patient interaction) to enrich curricula. Also, since international clinical rotations now tend to be unidirectional (learners from developed countries going to the developing world), possibilities for reciprocity should be examined.

Finally, the goal of linking the health education pipeline to actual workforce needs remains aspirational—both for us in the United States2 and certainly at the global level, despite calls to tackle that challenge.3,4

This is a propitious time to focus on medical education across the globe. There is growing consensus in the United States about the need to reform medical education to improve its outcomes and efficiency. Other nations are struggling to prepare clinicians to meet urgent health care needs. Academic Medicine hopes that selecting a topic for our next New Conversations series on medical education across the globe will stimulate opportunities to learn from each other, share resources more effectively, and develop a health care workforce that can better serve patients everywhere.

We invite authors to submit Research Reports, Articles, Perspectives, or Innovation Reports that address comparisons, connections, and collaborations in medical education that will positively impact health across the world. Submissions might, for example, serve to

  • compare and contrast different systems of training in terms of how students are recruited and selected; the duration, content, methods, and organization of education; or approaches to assessing competency;
  • consider opportunities for sharing resources, such as curricula, online modules, or assessment tools;
  • stimulate ideas about how to optimize training opportunities across nations; or
  • encourage dialogue about the global health care workforce, including the mobility of providers around the world, such as through new approaches to training affiliations, common assessments and universal certification or credentialing.

As noted in Dr. Sklar’s editorial,1 please submit contributions through the journal’s online submission system, Editorial Manager (, using the article type “New Conversations.” Submissions should be scholarly contributions that follow the journal’s regular submission criteria for Research Reports, Articles, Perspectives, or Innovation Reports. (For more information about those criteria, please see the journal’s Complete Instructions for Authors at Submissions will be peer-reviewed. Manuscripts may be submitted at any time, and accepted submissions will be published throughout 2017.

We will carry on the conversation outside the pages of the journal as well. Our blog AM Rounds ( will feature a series of discussions related to the New Conversations contributions that are published in the journal. I also encourage you to discuss New Conversations on Twitter using the hashtag #AcMedConversations by offering your opinions, posing questions, and responding to the opinions and questions posed by your colleagues. We will be using the journal’s Twitter handle, @AcadMedJournal, to do the same.

Debra F. Weinstein, MD


1. Sklar DP. Global health education in a changing world: The next New Conversations topic. Acad Med. 2016;91:603606.
2. Eden J, Berwick D, Wilensky G; Institute of Medicine. Graduate Medical Education That Meets the Nation’s Health Needs. 2014.Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
3. Frenk J, Chen L, Bhutta ZA, Cohen J, Crisp N, Evans T, et al. Health professionals for a new century: transforming education to strengthen health systems in an interdependent world. Lancet. 2010;376:19231958.
4. Crisp N, Chen L. Global supply of health professionals.N Engl J Med. 2014;370:950957.
    Copyright © 2016 by the Association of American Medical Colleges