The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Medical education should be relevant to the needs of the people who will be served, in order to address health issues in a culturally appropriate way. What works in one culture may not be effective in another. Therefore, the curricula and educational tools must be in tune with the available resources and the context of the learners. Our work in curriculum development is based on what is currently available, but our aim is to produce clinicians, medical educations, and healthcare leaders that are trained to the highest standard of medical care and are able to practice to that standard. For that, we have to take a methodical approach to reconstructing medical curricula in Haiti, and make practical plans for piloting and evaluation.
Medicine has been taught in Haiti for decades, but progress has clearly been inadequate to meet the country’s needs. New medical schools have recently been established, but there has also been a significant “brain drain” effect as many Haitian-born physicians choose to practice elsewhere. There are huge gaps in medical education, and the HME Project seeks to fill them. We partner with medical education institutions: discuss their needs, see their current resources, and define relevant objectives. We also work with health policy makers to set the standard of acceptable curricula that will address required competencies, and to identify available governmental resources. Thirdly, we collaborate with international academic institutions and medical societies who agree to share their curricular resources, which we will aid in adapting to the needs of Haiti.
As the basic sciences represent the foundation of understanding of the human body, it is one of the most important and basic elements of becoming a physician. The devastating January 2010 earthquake destroyed an already challenged ground of basic science teaching in Haiti. Hence, we have proposed a step-by-step approach to revitalizing basic science curricula in medical schools in Haiti. Ultimately both the physical and theoretical elements will need to be remodeled, but we will start with what seems like a practical initiative and what will be the first step in an evaluation. Together with Haitian medical education leadership we will:
- Define the current curriculum and its individual sessions.
- Identify gaps in teaching capacity of local faculty.
- Suggest distance learning sessions of the following nature:
a) international faculty who will provide didactic teaching to medical students for the parts of the curriculum that lacking teachers.
b) International and local faculty who will lead video conferencing use of electronic media which will take the place of laboratory experiences and
c) international faculty that will train local faculty and improve their teaching skills.
- Develop a reliable and valid assessment and evaluation process of anatomical knowledge.
- Disseminate and expand the successful elements of the initiative to the other medical schools based in Haiti, while also proceeding to address other shortcomings in the curriculum.
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