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Glossary of Medical Terms
Many who participate in various conferences on medical education quite often face difficulties understanding new educational terms and concepts introduced by speakers. When it is necessary to look for definitions or descriptions, it is often not an easy task. Furthermore, when searching various dictionaries and publications, one may learn that the definitions of many terms, if they do in fact exist, are often equivocal or unrelated to medical education. There is universal agreement on the importance of common understanding of various terms and methods, especially in view of rapidly growing globalization of medical education and the use of different languages for communication. In addition, the concept of continuous medical education that links undergraduate with postgraduate and continuing medical education (CME) demands that the terms used in different stages and by different people have the same meaning for all partners in the educational process.
The 'Glossary of Medical Education Terms' was prepared with the intention of assisting communication among medical educators. The developed formulations of educational definitions, terms and methods derived from different sources such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, glossaries, articles and the Internet. The attempt was made to present the most broadly accepted views as clearly as possible. The greatest difficulty is that quite often there are significant differences in definitions of the same or similar concepts and terms. Unfortunately, this is often the case in multi-professional fields such as medical education.
Over the past few decades, many changes in medical education particularly at the undergraduate level were introduced. Increasingly, innovative curricula, methods and educational tools were developed due to the cooperation of medical professionals with pedagogues, sociologists, psychologists, information specialists and those in many other related professions. However, they brought to medical education various concepts, definitions and vocabularies not previously known to medical professionals. In many cases, this has quite unintentionally caused confusion, controversy and misunderstanding, as the vocabulary used by disciplines outside of medicine often have a different focus and meaning.
The dictionary format has been chosen to provide answers to specific questions, as well as short descriptions to give a wider understanding of each term or method. All of the terms discussed are presented in relation to their relevance for medical education. As population health and information management are becoming a more broadly integral part of undergraduate medical education, the glossary also includes the most important terms from these areas, as well as terms used in the administration and management of health systems. In addition, this glossary also includes short descriptions of some important associations and organizations involved in medical education.
In all branches of sciences and the arts, terms are often used with meanings specific to its subject and its context. As new concepts are growing, the meaning of some definitions may not be clear to all readers, especially if they are developed in different languages. Therefore, it was not intended to provide absolute conclusive definitions in all cases. Some of the entries may prove to be controversial when read by medical educators with different professional backgrounds. The glossary also aims to stimulate discussion in a field which is full of debate and different ideas.
Finally, the author encourages and welcomes any criticism, corrections, additions and proposals for changes in the formulation of different terms, to be considered for the next edition of the Glossary. It is hoped that this publication will enable a better understanding and communication among educators. It is also hoped that this will help put current discussions about medical education in context.