Flexners ethical oversight reprised? Contemporary medical education and the health impacts of corporate globalization




Gatenby, Paul
Faunce, Thomas

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Blackwell Publishing Ltd


BACKGROUND: Abraham Flexner's famous reports of 1910 and 1912, Medical Education in the United States and Canada and Medical Education in Europe, were written to assist the development of a positive response in university curricula to a revolution in understanding about the scientific foundations of clinical medicine. Flexner pointed out many deficiencies in medical education that retain contemporary resonance. Generally underemphasised in Flexner's reports, however, were recommendations promoting a firm understanding of and commitment to medical ethics as a basis of medical professionalism. Indeed, Flexner's praise for the scholastic basic of German medical education appeared somewhat ironic when the ethical inadequacies of prominent Nazi doctors were revealed at the Nuremberg Trials. CORPORATE GLOBALISATION AND ITS IMPACT ON MEDICAL PROFESSIONALISM: This article suggests that contemporary medical educators, like Flexner, may be at risk of inadequately addressing a major challenge to evolving medical professionalism. Medical ethics, health law and even the international right to health are now increasingly emphasised in medical curricula. The same cannot be said, however, of lobbying principles arising from the structures of corporate globalisation, although these are rapidly becoming an even more dominant force in shaping medical practice around the globe. CONCLUSION: Today it is the normative tension between medical ethics, health law and international human rights on the one hand and the lobbying principles and strategies of corporate globalisation that must urgently become the focus of major recommendations for reshaping the teaching of medical professionalism. Suggestions are made as to how this might practically be achieved.



Keywords: Canada; curriculum; ethics; Europe; global change; history; human rights; international cooperation; law; medical education; medical ethics; professional practice; review; teaching; United States; Canada; Education, Medical, Undergraduate; Ethics, Medical Canada; Education, medical, undergraduate/ *organisation and administration/ ethics/ history; Ethics, medical; Europe; History, 20th century; International co-operation; Teaching/ *methods; United States



Medical Education


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