Just last year, University of Queensland officially announced that it will be introducing the new Doctor of Medicine (MD) program in 2015, enhancing global opportunities for its postgraduate medical students.
The four-year postgraduate-entry MD degree will replace the current four-year Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) program.
Why change the MBBS to an MD?
Recent changes in the Australian higher education sector, including the revised Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), which was introduced in July 2011, provided an opportunity to make this change. The MD degree is the international standard for medical graduates in Europe and North America. Other Australian medical programs have also recently transitioned to an MD. UQ Medical School, with input from various stakeholders, has developed much of the required curriculum change to facilitate the transition to the MD model in 2015. This change has allowed the school to build on the strong MBBS program by enhancing elements of research and scholarship training which are critical elements in the AQF Masters (extended) qualification.
What will the 4-year MD itself look like?
The UQ MD curriculum is very similar to the current MBBS program with enhancement of the research training. Year 1 & 2 of the MD Program have a much stronger “clinical science” focus compared with the current mix of basic and clinical sciences. This clinical focus in the MD curriculum has also facilitated a move from the current use of a Problem Based Learning (PBL) model in Year 1 to a Case Based Learning (CBL) model. Where PBL does not require prior experience or understanding of the topic, in the CBL model real-life clinical case scenarios are used and students are assumed to have a degree of prior knowledge (especially of the sciences underpinning the case). The CBL sessions are generally conducted by clinicians providing students with opportunities to engage with clinical reasoning and experiences early in the program. Further enhancements include integration of “wrap up” sessions, involving clinicians, researchers and scientists.
The shift to the MD means that every student entering the MD will need to have completed a minimum 3-year degree prior to entry. Prospective students have been advised, and will continue to be advised, that it is strongly recommended that they prepare themselves for the MD by undertaking up to and including Year 2 university-level courses in Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry. Students with this level of knowledge will more easily transition into the clinical case based model that forms the foundation of the MD program in Years 1 & 2.
In Years 3 & 4 students will, as in the current MBBS program, rotate through the different clinical disciplines. The research training will provide opportunities for students to engage with the rich academic clinical research environment in our teaching hospitals and community practices. As raised at the June 2014 Leaders Forum, the School is considering options around further integration of the rotations.
How is the school’s preparation for the MD being managed?
Once confirmation of the UQ MD‘s central endorsement was assured, UQ Medical School established several MD working groups (Curriculum, Assessment, Research and Entry (including Infrastructure)). The membership of each working party/group reflected the stakeholders involved in delivering the curriculum. In order to avoid duplication with other committees the Curriculum and Assessment working groups were integrated into the MBBS/MD Program Committee where development of the MD continues to be discussed alongside operational delivery of the current MBBS program. The Research Working Group continues to support and guide the development of the research component of the MD curriculum and the Entry working group, which considered infrastructure and resources matters, was integrated into the School MD Working Party. Each of the working groups reported/s to the SOM MD Working party which continues to be chaired by the Head of School.
The SOM Teaching and Learning Committee oversees the development of the program, ensures compliance with Faculty and University process and rules, and advises the Head of School. Implementation of the MD curriculum will occur under the direction of the School’s MD Working Party, the MBBS/MD Program Committee and the Director, MBBS/MD Program. Once the MD curriculum has been finalised the working party/groups will be disestablished (dotted lines in the diagram) and implementation and monitoring will be taken over by the MD Program Committee under the leadership of the Head of School through the SOM Teaching and Learning Committee.
UQ Medical School Doctor of Medicine
Program:Doctor of Medicine (MD) commencing 2015 Location: Brisbane, Queensland Next semester intake: January 2016 Duration: 4 years Application deadline: UQ Medical School applications are assessed on a rolling admissions (first come, first served) basis. It is recommended that applicants apply early to increase their chances of timely assessment.
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