This article addresses the roles, issues, approaches, rationale, pitfalls, priorities and balance of research in medical education, particularly its “disarray” status in Asia. Research in medical education has influenced education in many ways. Most importantly, it provides legitimate evidences to stakeholders on which to make educational decisions. It also has a wider social impact on teaching practice and subsequent clinical practice. However, in Asia, medical educational research has not substantially influenced educational policy and medical practices. Moreover, it fails to receive comparable attention as in developed countries. A number of constraints that have hampered the development of educational research in Asia are identified: low socio-economic condition of the region; cultural and religious values and beliefs of the people; lack of congruence between the mission and vision of medical schools; leadership crisis; lack of financial resources; inadequate exposure to medical educational research in undergraduate training; lack of collaboration and commitment; and unforeseeable short-term outcome of medical education. The article concludes with some specific recommendations to strengthen research and to create a research culture in the region, including active leadership and commitment of the institutes/organisations, careful assessment and strategic settings of the priorities of medical educational research, establishment of a regional centre for medical education research, availability of financial resources, wider dissemination of research findings, collaboration with the developed countries and initiative to publish regional-based medical education journals, including electronic journals. Appropriate research environment and culture will enable stakeholders to obtain evidence-based information from educational research to increase the relevance, quality, cost-effectiveness and equity of medical education and practice in Asia.
Medical schools traditionally rest on the “three-legged stool” of research, education and service. Hence, medical teachers are sometimes referred to as “triple-threat academicians”.
This article is available only as a PDF. Please click on “Download PDF” on top to view the full article.