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Brief History of Medical Education's Development in China

Categories: Study MBBS   Time: 2012-01-07by: CUCAS

Western science-based medical education in China has been largely based on the models laid down in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by Protestant Christian physicians and surgeons. Western medical missionaries established the first modern clinics and hospitals, provided the first training for nurses, and opened the first medical schools in China.

Among the earliest attempts to create a Western science-based medical education program in China was Peking Union Medical College found by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1917. Its influence on medical education and health care in China were reviewed in greater detailed according to the archives of many historical resources.

From 1917 to 1928, PUMC was managed by the Rockefeller Foundation and the majority of the faculty was westerners, most of whom were American. In 1928, the medical education effort of the Rockefeller Foundation was split from the other interests of the Foundation, and set up as the China Medical Board (CMB). From 1928 to 1951, the sole activity of CMB was the operation of PUMC and its attached hospital (PUMCH).

Since the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the evolution of medical education has been somewhat uneven. In 1949 to 1965, the Chinese government focused on the establishment of an education system for personnel health conducive to the country's needs. During the Cultural Revolution (1966 - 76), all medical schools were closed and the faculties were in large part assigned to menial roles in the countryside. The Post-Cultural Revolution period has been characterized by efforts to rebuild the medical education system and to improve its quality.

Until 1990s, the reform process was accelerated by the introduction of dramatic structural changes to the universities, including the establishment of the 211 Project by the Ministry of Education - "21" refers to the twenty-first century and "1" stands for the 100 universities that have been designated for special roles and special support from the Ministry of Education. Since then, progress has been made in numerous areas of medical science in China. In 1999, medical schools were free-standing medical universities or medical colleges. Eleven of these institutions operated under the Ministry of Health.

At the same time, medical universities were merged with nonmedical universities to create "comprehensive universities". All of the newly merged universities, including 10 of the 11 institutions which previously reported to the Ministry of Health, now report directly to the Ministry of Education. The single exception is Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) which continues to report to the Ministry of Health.

These mergers, especially those involving China's leading schools, have created universities that are increasingly similar to major universities of the West and especially those in the United States of America. In addition, the Ministry of Education has sought input from experts outside the country to help reach its goal of improving the quality of educational experiences and enhancing the academic and professional excellence of China's educational institutions.

In the 21st century, drastic changes are occurring in medical education around the world. Medicine and medical technologies are developing rapidly and expanding beyond the multidisciplinary area. The needs of medical care and medical education are different even from those of several years ago. In order to cope with these increasing social needs and adapt to the rapid changing of medical science in the world and simultaneously meet the needs of the Chinese people, medical education in China has made many innovations. Medical universities in China have recently modified their medical curriculum by incorporating integrated courses, small-group tutorials, courses in humanities, ethics, society, the doctor-patient relationship, problem-solving skills, lifelong learning, and enhanced informatics including computer sciences and English language.

Tag: Medicine, History of Medicine in China, Medicine Education

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