On pandemics and pivots: A COVID-19 reflection on envisioning the future of medical education

Document Type

Review Article


Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


The required adjustments precipitated by the coronavirus disease 2019 crisis have been challenging, but also represent a critical opportunity for the evolution and potential disruptive and constructive change of medical education. Given that the format of medical education is not fixed, but malleable and in fact must be adaptable to societal needs through ongoing reflexivity, we find ourselves in a potentially transformative learning phase for the field. An Association for Medical Education in Europe ASPIRE Academy group of 18 medical educators from seven countries was formed to consider this opportunity, and identified critical questions for collective reflection on current medical education practices and assumptions, with the attendant challenge to envision the future of medical education. This was achieved through online discussion as well as asynchronous collective reflections by group members. Four major themes and related conclusions arose from this conversation: Why we teach: the humanitarian mission of medicine should be reinforced; what we teach: disaster management, social accountability and embracing an environment of complexity and uncertainty should be the core; how we teach: open pathways to lean medical education and learning by developing learners embedded in a community context; and whom we teach: those willing to take professional responsibility. These collective reflections provide neither fully matured digests of the challenges of our field, nor comprehensive solutions; rather they are offered as a starting point for medical schools to consider as we seek to harness the learning opportunities stimulated by the pandemic.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Korean Journal of Medical Education