New publication: eLearning for undergraduate health professional education

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Imperial College London have collaborated to produce a publication that seeks to inform a radical transformation of health workforce development.

This publication on ‘eLearning for Undergraduate Health Professional Education’ responds to a need at the country level for evidence to inform and guide health professional education as an important vehicle in preparing health professionals to be ‘fit-for-purpose’. The World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Health Workforce in collaboration with the Department of Knowledge, Ethics and Research commissioned the Global eHealth Unit (GeHU) at Imperial College London to conduct a systematic review of the scientific literature to evaluate the effectiveness of eLearning for undergraduate health professional education.

At 156 pages the publication cannot be described as light reading!  However it recognises that what, how and where students are taught and who educates and trains the health workforce are major factors in determining the readiness and resilience of a health system.  It refers to outdated training models as one of the components of common health workforce challenges hindering efforts to attain global and national health objectives.

This publication provides evidence to inform and guide the adoption of innovative, technology enabled models into health professional education, so as to augment capacities to scale up production, enhance quality and relevance of training, and adopt equity-focused policies.  It provides insight into advantages and disadvantages of eLearning and an overview of how the quality of eLearning can be measured. Importantly, it identifies and discusses the critical success factors for the implementation and adaptation of eLearning interventions, as well as strategies to equitably and effectively introduce, institutionalise and sustain eLearning.

eLearning has an under-exploited potential to support health workforce capacity building in different contexts, and can empower health workers to take charge directly of their own competency development, to enable them to play a full role as change agents in addressing the challenges we will face in the 21st century.

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