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Principally, undergraduate and postgraduate programs, as well as continuing medical education, uphold curriculum development and planning as a critical element of their agenda. In fact, the significance of the curriculum is not confined to the statement of content or the syllabus; it covers a broad range of spheres. Specifically, the curriculum concerns the activities scheduled for the teaching program as outcomes and how the teacher achieves them in real life (Harden, 1986). However, there have been many calls for creativity and change in the education of medical students expressed in various discussions, including several controversies. For example, the adoption of the outcome-based educational system has received worldwide attention in the recent past (Harden, 1999, Spady, 1994). In that regard, the success of teaching and learning programs largely depends on the adoption of the concept of careful planning (Harden, 1999). Therefore, the curriculum provides a solution to the diverse problems encountered in the medical education system.
Notably, Saudi Arabia has experienced national demands for establishing the competencies of medical students while medical education has undergone tremendous expansion within the Kingdom (Abdulrahman, 2008; Abdulrahman, 2011). In this regard, this article focusses on describing the establishment of the Kingdom’s competency-based framework. Initially, between the years 2005 and 2007, a national consensus was developed by Zaini (2007) amongst the stakeholders in Saudi Arabia regarding important medical school learning outcomes as well as the vision of the Saudi Future Doctor. As such, it was in line with regional plans for defining the learning outcomes for undergraduate programs for medical education in Arabian Gulf countries. Fundamentally, the programs aimed to provide a way to guarantee the minimal standards for undergraduate medical education. For instance, in 2009, the newly established Committee of Deans of Medical Schools (CDMS) formed a task force that was to develop a national competency framework for use by Saudi doctors. Consequently, the National Commission for Academic Accreditation and Assessment (lately known as Evaluation Education Commission – Higher Education Sector (EEC-HES)) developed a document outlining the Bachelor Degree Programmes’ Learning Outcomes especially for medicine (Zaini et al., 2011). The task force assigned by the CDMS in the Kingdom completed the work and published the document as Saudi Medical Education Directives Framework (Saudi MEDs): A Competency Specification for Saudi Medical Graduates and Medical Teachers (Zaini et al., 2011). Various international medical education experts and stakeholders reviewed the Saudi MEDs framework; they are involved in the development of national and international competence-based medical education frameworks as well as the accreditation of medical schools globally. Therefore, the Saudi MEDs final version has been approved by CDMS and EEC-HES in September 2016 took into consideration the recommendations and views of these experts.
Mostly, the number of medical school in Saudi Arabia has been increased dramatically through last 15 years from 5 medical government colleges to more than 40 medical government and privet colleges. Although the Saudi MEDs introduced as a promising for stakeholders and employers, there are many concerns of the actual work in the colleges. Moreover, the anecdotal view of the Saudi MEDs entails positive development even though its impact on the quality of medical education has not yet been assessed. In fact, no assessment has been conducted in the adaptation process. Therefore, this study aims to explore the role of Saudi MEDs regarding developing a career in medical practice and medical education which is highly demanded by 2030 vision of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Notably, the central question is of concern:
How could Saudi MEDs affect medical education and future practice?
The study is based on the paradigm of constructive and interpretive as a philosophy of the research. According to Krauss (2005) and Creswell (2014), objectivity is denied by this paradigm, and many realities come from many subjects who experience the same problem. The qualitative research will be used in this study to achieve the answer. Qualitative research is widely employed in the social sciences and humanities, such as anthropology, sociology, education and history (Lingard et al., 2007). In qualitative research, social and empirical phenomena are studied within their physical environment (Ng et al., 2013). Pope and Mays (2000) highlighted that qualitative methods of research started being employed in medical education in the 1980s, while some researchers have described qualitative methods of research as being opposite to quantitative methods.
I conducted this study as qualitative research since the main aim is to investigate the reality of dealing with Saudi MEDs from staff and documents, which is related to Creswell (2012) definition of qualitative research. He notes that it tends to deal with the interpretation of people’s real life experiences and their perceptions about social phenomena. Through these elements, qualitative researchers extract essential knowledge about the society by using particular techniques, such as interviews, focus groups, and observations. Lincoln and Guba (2001) put forward the ‘rationalistic’ method of investigation as an alternative to the ‘naturalistic’ approach, in which the researcher does not attempt to deduce self-propositions from the acquired data.
On the first phase, this research involved the use of semi-structured interviews with stakeholders. Medical education leaders and instructors participate in examining the perceived effects of the Saudi MEDs on undergraduate medical education quality. In fact, the research incorporated the interview as a flexible data collection tool that facilitated the use of multisensory channels. Furthermore, the interview process may be controlled to provide room for spontaneity while the interviewer prompts for complete answers to complex issues (Creswell, 2014). Consequently, this project is expected to take notice of the time factor associated with the interviews, including openness to interviewer bias. Additionally, the interviews may inconvenience the respondents, especially interferences due to the concerns of interviewee-fatigue as well as difficulty in establishing anonymity. Besides, the interview process entails an element of transaction that contains bias, requiring prompt recognition and control (Louis et al., 2013). Accordingly, the definition of the situation varies amongst participants because each of them has a divergent viewpoint. Notably, the idea requires the establishment of adequate controls within the research design to handle the situation.
Despite this, there are various advantages associated with open-ended questions, including their flexibility, which allows for in-depth probing to obtain deeper insights and information. About this, the interviewer can test the limits of the knowledge of the respondents and motivate co-operation while aiding in the establishment of a lasting rapport. Furthermore, they facilitate the implementation of proper assessment regarding the beliefs held by the respondent (Miller and Crabtree, 2004). Additionally, some unexpected responses, especially those suggestive of hitherto unconsidered hypotheses or relationships, can be obtained from open-ended questions. Primarily, semi-structured interview questions are framed with probes and prompts. The case summaries will be based on thematic analysis for development, comparison, and interpretation.
On the Second phase, analysis of documents of some medical colleges regarding the adaptation and actual application of Saudi MEDs. I will choose the mixture of traditional and modern school according to their response and time bound. The performance of students on the national progress test as well as the SMLE (Saudi Medical Licence Exam) will be utilized in the analysis of the pre- and post-Saudi MEDs. Additionally, the documents will be analyzed based on the external panel reports and self-reviews. Consequently, qualitative researchers have always relied on the strategy of triangulation to maximize their data quality. Ideally, the term ‘triangulation’ originates from cartography and involves the process of establishing the position of a person on a map while referring to multiple other planned areas. Therefore, the process of triangulation in qualitative research entails the collection of data from various positions to provide insights concerning the studied phenomenon. In that regard, it facilitates the realization of a more comprehensive and refined understanding. It is worth noting that the triangulation process requires one to select the most relevant data sources, including integration while determining the mechanism of their correlation to one another.
The study should have approval from an ethics committee. The consent form will be used to give to participants and colleges as Louis et al. (2013) emphasized, informed consent is a vital concept. It constitutes the foundation of a hidden contract-based relation between the researcher and the researched. I will implement the ethical points that Louis et al. (2013) asserted, such as clearly describing the reason, conduct, value and character of the interview to the interviewee. The respondents should be aware of how the data will be used, the ethical matters and the likely period of the interview. Overall, the respondents will be completely aware of the ‘regulations of the game’ so that there will be no confusion about what was going to happen during and after the interview or analysis. The identity and personal information will be confidential at all process as Brinkmann and Kvale (2015) asserted the importance of confidentiality for the participants to feel comfortable.
This research aims to explore how the Saudi MEDs would enhance the medical career by utilizing interviews with stakeholders and analyzing documents from colleges. The above might help the medical colleges in Saudi Arabia to obtain sustainability in learning and teach the graduate physicians who are compatible with Saudi 2030 vision.
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