Towards the Formative Route of Health Professionals: the O&M Medical School (O&Med) Paradigm – Shift Perspectives in the Caribbean.

Dr. Eddy Pérez-Then

Director                                                                                                                                   

O&M Medical School

Addressing the current health indicators in the Dominican Republic should constitute a priority for our educational system, at undergraduate, postgraduate, and continuous medical education level. We must give a higher emphasis to the current issues in the health field. The staff in this area should be familiar with the intrinsic aspects of the health system, as well as with how to refer, how to counter refer a patient, and how to determine when a patient should be diagnosed quickly.

Information Technology (IT) is already providing input on how to make a more precise impact. Challenges include introducing IT without removing the capacity for critical thinking as health workers. We must acknowledge the instinct provided by the clinical experience, but we must also remember that technology, linked to knowledge, can help us not only to approach our patients from a holistic standpoint, but also to manage them more efficiently and timely, in a cost- beneficial manner.

Curriculum integration is required in order to achieve a more holistic view of the health system and health care users, linking basic and clinical sciences, with images, public health, economics and technology. O&M Medical School (O&Med) constitutes an example of this medical education paradigm shift in the Caribbean, specifically in the Dominican Republic.

O&Med was developed by Harvard University, and its curriculum platform responds to the 21st century curricular integration guidelines. We, at O&Med, hope that this approach will mark the Academia trends in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean, developing preparing health professionals who will not only become experts in a specific clinical area, but will also be able to perceive the health care user as a part of different systems, including health, environment, community and virtual systems.

The O&Med curriculum focuses on development of competences in clinical practice, research and public health, forming future medical doctors capable of updating, socializing and transmitting the acquired knowledge, while effectively applying it in their everyday practice. These competences are strongly oriented towards the humanization of health services, ethics and adequate service planning and delivery, facilitating the incursion of our future graduates in health management activities, as an essential ability of health professionals in this century.

Nevertheless, O&Med intentions to contribute to a paradigm – shift of medical education (at local, regional and global level) should be aware that competences development is intrinsic and closely linked to curricular integration, conceiving IT as the cornerstone to change teaching and learning environments and new knowledge development in this century.

In fact, the paradigm shift in medical education is essentially related to the teaching-learning process, which will depend, not only on the interaction dynamics between teachers and students, but also on the administrative staff responsible for the homeostasis between the welfare of the academic structures coordinating the accreditation process, facilities adjustment to the different methods to socialize knowledge in medical education, as well as to guarantee the continuous process of faculty and curriculum development.

Finally, knowledge is dynamic, not static. Therefore, the effectiveness of actions will depend on the critical and inspirational spirit of the actors involved in the process.