Flexner at 100: A Brief View from Oxford


Of all the principles set out by Flexner in 1910, the most fundamental, that of academic and scientific excellence, is more relevant to medical education in the United Kingdom today than ever before. To realize this, undergraduate medical education (UGME) at Oxford has evolved to incorporate the tutorial method of teaching to promote independent and critical thought. Coupled with the usual didactic experiences, each medical student is also required to complete a 26-week research experience before going on to clinical study. Outcome measures reveal that Oxford graduates have consistently achieved highest marks in the U.K. equivalent of the United States Medical Licensing Examination. In contrast to UGME in the United Kingdom, postgraduate medical education (PGME) occurs largely outside the academy and often emphasizes the practical at the expense of the underlying Flexnarian principles of academic excellence. A reassertion of Flexner's belief that universities and medical schools should be the center for all medical education would greatly benefit PGME in the United Kingdom and be a tribute to Flexner's enduring legacy.