McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster's innovations in medical education honored by Newsweek

Mac is only Canadian school to be named in list of six

Published: March 3, 1997

American publishing giant Newsweek Magazine has included Canada's McMaster University on its list of six innovative North American medical schools.

The article, titled Variations on the Theme, appears in the 1998 edition on graduate schools which is published by Newsweek with Kaplan Educational Centers. The guide appeared on news-stands March 5.

"An hour's drive from Toronto lies a granddaddy of alternative medical schools," writes journalist Bronwyn Fryer. "McMaster changed the face of medical education in 1965, when it recognized that would-be doctors were taught the technology rather than the humanity of medicine."

The article credits McMaster as "the birthplace of problem-based learning (PBL), a teaching methodology in which students work on 'patient cases' in a real or simulated clinical setting. McMaster's program was so successful that when Harvard medical school adopted a PBL approach in the 1980s, it was hailed as the 'new pathway' to medical education. Today most medical schools offer some form of PBL as part of their teaching curricula.

Community-oriented, people-centred, interdisciplinary and problem-based, the 'McMaster Approach' originally evoked world-wide attention, and considerable skepticism. It has since become a hallmark of McMaster's integrated Faculty of Health Sciences.

"The innovations of 30 years ago continue today," explains Dr. Raelene Rathbone, acting dean and vice-president, health sciences. "The Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University is the only one in Canada which houses its educational programs in medicine with nursing, occupational and physiotherapy, and others. The Faculty has most recently developed the country's first university program in midwifery and is in the planning stages of our new Institute for Applied Health Sciences, a joint venture with Mohawk College."

McMaster president Dr. Peter George says that the Newsweek honor is a fitting tribute to the leadership of then University president Dr. Harry Thode and founding dean of the new medical school, Dr. John Evans. "Today's innovations build on a foundation created by a visionary team of founders," George says. "More than three decades later, McMaster's Faculty of Health Sciences continues to be a World leader in all aspects of education, research and health service. It is a great honor for us -- as a Faculty, as a University, as a community -- to receive this kind of recognition."

The U.S. schools "making the grade" in innovation are Duke University, Boston University, Brown University, Dartmouth College and University of California at San Diego.

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