Posted on June 16, 2015

The College of Medicine (CMED) at Qatar University (QU) hosted a lecture last week on paradigm shifts in medical education. The forum was delivered by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professor of medicine and physiology Charles Wiener and was attended by VP for Medicine and Health and CMED Dean Dr Egon Toft and members of the College, College of Education and several others. 

Prof Weiner’s views arose from the need to ensure that medical education anticipates, rather than reacts to, changes in medical care. In particular, he focused on what he called the “Individuality Paradigm” as an approach to medical care that recognizes variability as a law of life, and differences between bodies and individuals and how they react and behave under abnormal conditions or diseases. Overviewing the history of medicine from 500 BC until today, the lecture recognized individualized medicine as the way forward in medical practice and education with support from technology.

The seminar reviewed medical paradigms that preceded the Individuality Paradigm, discussed the context for prevention, risk assessment, treatment, and education within it, and stimulated discussion of strategies to improve human health within the framework of individuality. Prof Weiner highlighted the history of this new medical trend, and referred to ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ (1962) by Thomas Kuhn who utilized the word ‘paradigm’ to characterize a set of scientific beliefs that differed from current dogma.

Paradigms in medical education 2 [].jpgHe noted that Kuhn had supposed that science does not progress in a linear fashion, but rather through periodic ‘paradigm shifts’ instigated by research and technological advancement. “In this new medical paradigm, the continuum of human health and disease will be understood, investigated, and practiced in the context of individuality”, he said, identifying three factors that are combined and taken into consideration; a patient’s genetic map, external factors and identical cases. 

Implementing this new paradigm calls for collaborative efforts to reform medical education and clinical care, Prof Weiner said, adding, “This would emphasize individuality and environment as determinants of phenotype ranging from ‘risk’ to ‘critical illness”. He noted that the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine translates the Individuality Paradigm into education and practice by establishing a ‘Genes to Society’ curriculum in which the new paradigm is taken as a starting point and a new framework is developed to structure medical education and medical care. 

The seminar was part of a series of lectures delivered by a number of world leaders in medical education. Founded in October 2014, the College of Medicine is fully aligned with Qatar’s national strategies in education and health, as well as Qatar University’s strategic plan, and aims to be the leading college of medicine in the region and the college of choice for top students and faculty. The College intends to be a driving force for innovation across the national healthcare sector and to address core national health challenges and seek effective solutions.