Medical education is organized into study plans that are structured around long periods of reflection and analysis. In them, aspects of the profession that are considered scientifically, socially and culturally valuable for the graduate’s performance with professionalism are selected and organized for teaching. Evaluating the results achieved, and always conditioned by the variant environment, periodically the study plans should be made adjustments that allow them to continue developing the institutional curricular project.
In the last three decades and as part of that permanent evaluation exercise, a questioning has been installed in the curricular committees of medicine programs around the planet. The increasing speed with which the frontier of scientific knowledge began to move, the massification of information sources and the physical and technological interconnection of society, led to debates focused on the search for a balance between addressing with importance the many new aspects for professional training and the preservation of the relevance of the traditional components inherited from the beginning of the previous century, until that moment immovable.
In this context, the pandemic found us. Its declaration and the measures decreed by the governments for its control, confined the student population and limited, only to vital care, the health services provided by the institutions where we traditionally carried out our training practices. The chaos and uncertainty generated required us to support ourselves as never before on basic medical principles and on the coherent model of professionalism, altruism, quality and safety that we have always sought to develop in our students. This unprecedented situation also confirmed for us the need to guarantee emerging competencies in doctors in the 21st century such as: managing, with a global approach, public health problems, using large volumes of data processed with technologies to improve individual health care and decisively contribute to eliminating inequities in health care.
Special comment deserve the opportunities that appeared to introduce bioethical issues as part of daily events during the clinical training of the students. The limitation of vital resources, the futility of some interventions, the decisions to limit the therapeutic effort ceased to be theoretical dilemmas, without real life stories, to become “living” laboratories that support the development of essential competencies for physical integrity and mental in future professionals.
While many will only remember the COVID-19 pandemic as an event that put medical education on hold, for others it will be the opportunity to generate the immediate transformations in the curricula that have been postponed for decades in their programs, using this crisis as a catalyst.
The ability to adapt has been recognized as a very effective evolutionary tool for survival. Doctors for this century must be able to face the complex problems in public health, in medical care and in the health systems that the future will surely hold.