Educating universal professionals or global physicians? A multi-centre study of international medical programmes design

Emmaline Brouwer*, Erik Driessen, Norul Hidayah Mamat, Vishna Devi Nadarajah, Klara Somodic, Janneke Frambach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Medical schools increasingly offer curricula that specifically aim to prepare students for an international medical career. This is challenging as well as controversial: curriculum designers must balance specific local healthcare requirements with global health competencies doctors need in our globalised world. By investigating how international medical programme designers experience this balancing act, this study aims to contribute insights to the debate on local versus global medical education. Methods: We conducted a multi-centre instrumental case study across three universities with international medical programmes in three countries. The study involved 26 semi-structured interviews with key curriculum designers recruited through purposive sampling. Additionally, we performed a curriculum document analysis. Data were thematically analysed within a multidisciplinary team. Results: Participants described two profiles of international medical programme graduates: ?a global physician?, equipped with specific competencies for international practice, and ?a universal professional?, an overall high-level graduate fit for future practice anywhere. These perspectives presented different curriculum design challenges. Conclusions: International medical programmes teach us how we can rethink graduate profiles in a globalising world. Yet, educational standardisation poses risks and securing equity in global health education is challenging, as is preparing students to be adaptable to the requirements of a rapidly changing future local healthcare context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-227
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number2
Early online date17 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020



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