Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

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From Secondary to Medical Education: Letting the Students' voice be heard


Medical Students and Young doctors are the future of healthcare. They stand in the middle of a changing world where desired competencies are different then yesterdays'. Therefore, their voices need to be heard.

In 2010, the Global Independent Commission on the Education of Health Professionals for the 21st Century concluded that the present content, organisation, and delivery of health professional education is failing to serve the needs of patients and populations [1].  To help meet the need to improve not only the quantity of healthcare professionals, but also the quality of our education, the WHO released guidelines on ‘Transforming and Scaling Up Health Professional Education and Training' in 2013 [2].
Moving forward, the World Health Organization in collaboration with the International Federation of Medical Students' Associations (IFMSA) and the World Medical Association Junior Doctors Network (WMA JDN) is exploring the necessary competencies of physicians to meet the needs of our patients. This World Health Organization survey will help determine the desired competencies for students entering medical school and during their pre-clinical years, and be used in future tools to assess to quality of health professional education.

We call upon all medical students and young doctors to participate in a survey on the Transition from Secondary to Medical Education, and the Desired Competencies for Admission to Medical School, to help us and WHO to make their voices heard, as they are the future of healthcare, and stand in the middle of a changing world where desired competencies are different then yesterdays'. This survey can be found here. IFMSA, WHO and JDN hope to use these results to direct our ongoing work in health workforce planning to ensure that medical students and young physicians have access to the highest quality education possible so that our patients have access to the highest quality of healthcare.

I would also however like to highlight that medical students also however made a statement, during the IFMSA General Assembly March Meeting 2012 in Ghana, that the right competencies of students are not always the only factor that determine their admission to Medical Education. [3] Many students are limited from accessing higher education by inadequate financial resources. [1] Prospective students from low socioeconomic status (SES) groups are disproportionately affected. [1] A students' SES may be influenced by a number of factors including ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, health status, care responsibilities and religion. [4]

Higher Education plays a key role in reducing inequalities and improving knowledge, skills and competencies within society, [1][5] and thus should be an essential contributor to the wellbeing of society. To increase and optimise the impact of higher education, admission should be based on the ability, aptitude and potential of the applicant and not on their financial status. Every qualified person should have the right to access, participate and successfully complete higher education. [6] Therefore, obstacles to higher education should be minimised in order to ensure fair access. 

"What if the cure for cancer is trapped inside the mind of someone who can't afford an education?"

Sincerely yours,

Stijntje Dijk
IFMSA Standing Committee on Medical Education Director 2013-2014



1.  Frenk, J et. al (2010). Health professionals for a new century: transforming education to strengthen health systems in an interdependent world. The Lancet, [online] 376(9756), pp.1923-1958. Available at: 

2. World Health Organization (2014). Transforming and scaling up health professionals’ education and training:. [online] Available at: 

3. International Federation of Medical Students' Associations (2012). Accessibility to Medical Education; Ensuring Equitable Access to Medical Education for Students of Low Socioeconomic Status (SES). Available at:

4. Lee, P.R., Moss, N. & Kieger, N. (1995). Measuring social inequalities in health. Report on the Conference of the Naitonal Institutes of Health. Public Health Rep. 110(3): 302-5. 

5. C.S.D.H. (2008). Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Final report of the commission on social determinants of health. Geneva, World Health Organisation

6. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. International covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, Article 13.2C. Published: Dec 1966, Entry into Force: Jan 1976. Available at:

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