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Glossary of Medical Terms
The process of teaching, learning and training of students with an ongoing integration of knowledge, experience, skills, qualities, responsibility and values which qualify an individual to practice medicine. It is divided into undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing medical education, but increasingly there is a focus on the "lifelong" nature of medical education.
Undergraduate education or basic medical education refers to the period beginning when a student enters medical school and ends with the final examination for basic medical qualification. This period of education comprises a pre-clinical and a clinical period. It can result in granting a license to practice, which may be provisional and subject to conditions as to supervision; or permitting the start of postgraduate education. In the United States, however, undergraduate education refers to pre-medical college education, which results in a Bachelor's degree and is the training most students receive before entering medical school.
Postgraduate education, graduate medical education or specialty training is used to designate the more or less continuous period of post-basic training which, when it occurs, normally directly follows undergraduate training and is designed to lead to competence in a chosen branch of medical practice.
A professional who focuses on the educational process necessary to transform students into physicians. Some medical educators are physicians, but an increasing number have backgrounds in education, behavioral or other health sciences.
Medical informatics is a scientific field that deals with the storage, retrieval and optimal use of information and data. Rapid development is due to advances in computing, communication technology and an increasing awareness that the knowledge base of medicine is essentially unmanageable by traditional paper-based methods.
A higher education or university level institution offering a prescribed course of medicine. The following are examples of the names that such institutions may bear and which vary from one country to another or even within countries: Medical College; College of Surgeons; Medical Institute; Institute of Medicine and Pharmacy; Institute of Medicine and Surgery; Faculty of Medicine; Faculty of Medical Sciences; Faculty of Medicine and Surgery; Academy of Medicine or Medical Academy; University Center for Health Sciences; Medical University; Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy.
Minimum Essential Requirements
This specifies the knowledge, skills and attitudes related to the sciences basic to medicine, clinical practice, professional behavior and ethical values. The graduate of undergraduate medical education should possess these to ensure that he or she is prepared to begin further graduate medical education (specialty training) or to start practicing medicine under supervision.
Modified Essay Question (MEQ)
A measurement instrument which allows for assessment of clinical reasoning skills, understanding and knowledge of clinical and basic science and application of basic science to clinical problems. MEQ's constitute a series of questions which must be answered in the sequence asked, with no review and no possibility of correcting previous answers. Questions must be answered within the allocated time which may vary from 40 to 90 minutes. In general, a brief patient clinical scenario (presentation) is followed by a few questions exploring diagnostic hypotheses and mechanisms underlying the clinical presentation. Subsequent questions may focus on applied basic science, interpretation of diagnostic information, management issues, disease complications, ethical issues or prognosis, for example. The initial scenario is either repeated or reformulated as the reporting process progresses, and as further information is provided, the assessed area narrows. Thus the medical problem is progressively defined with questions being directed to increasingly specific areas. A well-written MEQ assesses the approach of students to a problem, their reasoning skills and understanding of concepts, rather than recall of factual knowledge.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)
An assessment tool that requires examinees to identify the one correct answer to a question. It consists of a stem that directly or indirectly poses a question and a set of distracters from which the answer is selected. In its simplest form, it comprises a stem statement followed by related statements which an examinee marks as either true or false. Another type asks examinees to select a correct or best answer from a number of options. In the 'extended matching' type test, a short vignette about a patient is presented and the examinee is asked to select the best response from approximately 15-20 choices. Such extended matching questions, a relatively new form of MCQ, reduce the potential for guessing to marginal terms. The test reliability is achieved by formulating a large number of well-constructed questions; this requires considerable skill. The great strength of the multiple-choice format is its ease and reliability of scoring. Checking answers is mechanical and requires neither interpretation nor special knowledge. Most commonly administered multiple-choice exams are scored by machine and provide statistical information about the exam, such as item difficulty and item-test correlations. For these reasons, multiple-choice questions are popular among instructors offering the advantage of allowing different kinds of questions, at various levels of difficulty. The computerized version of MCQ can cover a large area of knowledge in a short space of time. And poor questions which fail to discriminate between candidates of different ability can be easily identified. Using a greater number of questions is beneficial, as a larger set of questions provides better coverage of course material, and students' test scores are more reliable. The correct answers are pre-specified and hence marking in some respects is objective. A large number of examinees can be tested with relatively few resources. The major disadvantage to multiple-choice questions is that they are time-consuming to construct. However, once constructed, multiple-choice questions can be used again, in either original or modified form. Since these tests primarily measure knowledge only, they are now often being replaced with more performance-based assessment methods.