Philadelphia, PA (NursingSalary.org) – “20th century medical education and training won’t work in the 21st century” is the motto of a report released by Dean Afaf I. Meleis of The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing together with a team of 20 professional and academic leaders.
The learning process has to undergo a series of transformations on three successive levels—from informative to formative then to transformative learning:
- Informative learning refers to students acquiring theoretical knowledge and skills; it is meant to be the foundation of the process. It produces experts.
- Formative learning is about socializing students around values; it should provide future professionals with the soft skills they’ll need in their careers. It is meant to produce professionals.
- Transformative learning is the final stage of the medical education process; it is all about developing leadership attributes. Transformative learning produces enlightened change agents.
Changes are needed in the current educational system. The outdated, 20th century model, is based solely on informative learning, which should only be the core the school should be building on, and not a final goal. The current academic curricula, say the authors in an interview for the University’s School of Nursing, is “fragmented, outdated and static and only produces ill-equipped graduates.”
“The problems are systemic: mismatch of competencies to patient and population needs; poor teamwork; persistent gender stratification of professional status; narrow technical focus without broader contextual understanding; episodic encounters rather than continuous care; predominant hospital orientation at the expense of primary care; quantitative and qualitative imbalances in the professional labor market; and weak leadership to improve health-system performance.”
The report suggests a series of factors of both instructional and institutional nature that need to be reformed.
- Instructional reforms have a huge scope, ranging from admission to graduation, and are meant to generate a competency-based curriculum that prepares future nurses for the real challenges of their career: team work, creative use of information technology, ability to develop flexible career paths and the spirit of duty.
- Institutional reforms are meant to align the nation-wide efforts towards a common cause. Joint planning should be applied in the education and health sectors to ensure a close to perfect match between the demands of the market and the outputs of the educational institutions. Key people from both sectors should work together in the reform process and extend responsibilities from one sector to another.