Medical Education Reform: public consultations on the Medical Education Strategy for the next 10 years
The Ministry of Health of Ukraine has developed the Medical Education Strategy as an integral part of the transformation of the national healthcare system. The Strategy sets the vision for the next ten years. It is essential to enable Ukrainian health practitioners to become knowledgeable and engaged professionals who provide high quality services focusing on the patient and the individual's particular health care needs.
For the first time since independence, Ukraine makes comprehensive efforts and follows an integrated approach to reforming medical education. The first improvements have already been introduced this year. For instance, the new requirement for admission to medical schools and universities – prospective applicants have to score above the set minimum threshold of 150 points in an external independent evaluation (EIE) test in compulsory disciplines – biology/chemistry, or mathematics/physics – to be eligible to enroll in a medical school.
The key strategic aims include:
Quality Improvement in Medical Education
- The introduction of new standards for medical education and training
The medical education curricula will be reviewed and redesigned to meet the latest advances in medical sciences and to prepare future health professionals to be flexible and responsive to the population health care needs in a changing environment. The national standards for medical education and training will be developed in line with international guidelines and recommendations.
- New requirements for admission to a medical school
Future health care practitioners must prove their abilities and demonstrate motivation to become highly educated professionals already at the stage of admission to medical schools and universities. Therefore, we have introduced the set minimum threshold of 150 points in compulsory disciplines in an external independent evaluation (EIE) test for prospective medical students. The purpose of this innovation is to select the best prospective students and, ultimately, to improve the quality of health care in the country.
- The Unified State Qualification Exam
Starting 2019, all medical school graduates in Ukraine will have to pass the Unified State Qualification Exam, consisting of four components: the Ukrainian integrated exam ‘KROK’ (Step), the English language proficiency test, the International Foundations of Medicine exam (IFOM), and the Objective Structured Practical (clinical) Examination (OSPE or OSCE). The Ukrainian health professionals should acquire the same knowledge and skills as, for example, their American or Spanish colleagues.
- New level of teaching and medical faculties’ commitment to teaching excellence
Excellent medical teachers will educate new generations of doctors, who will in turn provide high quality care to patients. Therefore, the Medical Education Strategy envisages the development of a comprehensive program offering medical educators in Ukraine numerous opportunities for personal and professional development, including studying abroad (from exchange programs and grants to international internships), attending foreign language courses, participating in international conferences and events, etc. In addition, the Strategy provides for different types of support to educators who publish their research in international journals (Scopus and / or Web of Science).
Quality Improvement in Postgraduate Medical Education
- Fair internship model
The introduction of a national medical student performance rating and an electronic system will ensure fair and transparent enrollment in internship programs with increasing responsibility for patient care and other clinical activities.
- Development of residency programs
Medical residency involves specialized training in a particular area of focus. The most motivated medical school graduates will be able to apply for residency programs of their choice to gain a better knowledge and practical skills in their specialty.
- Continuous professional development of doctors
The outdated re-training system will be gradually transformed into a modern system of continuous professional development: health practitioners should constantly improve their skills and knowledge to keep updated to meet the needs of patients and to provide high quality services. Healthcare professionals can freely choose the training topics and formats they are interested in. Education abroad, participation in seminars, conferences, workshops organized by international organizations and professional associations, and online courses are now recognized as additional professional training formats. The monopoly of academies for postgraduate education is being demolished.
Effective Financing and Management of Medical Higher Education Institutions
- Performance-based financing mechanisms
In addition to the introduction of the performance-based financing mechanisms, the allocated state budget funds now covers tuition for the top applicants, who are admitted to medical schools of their choice. This means that the medical higher education institutions with the highest competition for places will get the largest number of government-subsidized students.
- Greater autonomy
Medical schools and universities will be granted more autonomy, which means they will enjoy higher degrees of institutional, academic and financial independence.
The principle of university autonomy (enshrined in the Law of Ukraine On Higher Education) stimulates the development of effective strategies to improve curricula and educational programs, to build an engaged academic community and to enhance self-governance at medical higher education institutions.
The New Academic Culture Paradigm
- Eliminating plagiarism
The state will work closely with the national medical schools and universities to make progress towards eliminating plagiarism, cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty and misconduct in higher education and scientific research.
Universities will develop and implement internal ethics policies and codes.
- Internationalization of medical education
Both medical school students and educators will be able to study abroad and participate in international programs involving clinical training and research projects.
By promoting and encouraging the international academic mobility, we will make great progress towards the inclusion of the Ukrainian medical education in the global discourse. Therefore, the state will provide support to students and educators who are interested in participating in Erasmus + and different foreign exchange programs. International education and experience can benefit students’ personal and career development by increasing their human, social and cultural capital.
The Strategy also provides for the development of a state program aimed at encouraging and inviting foreign professors to give lectures to Ukrainian medical students.
Development of Scientific Research Activities
- Qualitative research
It is essential to stimulate Ukrainian scholars to conduct qualitative research and to publish up to date research findings in international journals for the benefit of the scientific community.
Our key objective is to encourage Ukrainian scholars and scientists to join the international community and engage in discussions on global challenges and the latest innovations in the medical field.
- Thesis quality
One of the key priorities of the medical education reform in Ukraine is improving the quality of thesis by introducing an independent professional peer review and engaging anonymous, independent experts and reviewers (both Ukrainian and foreign) to evaluate the quality, importance, and scientific novelty of the thesis.
The Ministry of Health of Ukraine has initiated a series of public discussions of the Medical Education Strategy. The systematic and consistent changes in structure, delivery and funding of the national medical education will allow increasing its competitiveness and contribute to improving the quality of health care in Ukraine.
The full text of the strategy is available in Ukrainian only: the Medical Education Strategy