Awards

Cancer Council Australia Student Essay Competition 2016: How best to teach and learn about cancer in medical schools: moving towards a patient-centred approach that reflects the needs of Australia

Robert J McRae

Cancer has recently overtaken heart disease to become the number one cause of mortality both globally and in Australia. As such, adequate oncology education must be an integral component of medical school if students are to achieve learning outcomes that meet the needs of the population. The aim of this review is to evaluate the current state of undergraduate oncology education and identify how Australian medical schools can improve oncology learning outcomes for students, and by derivative, improve health care outcomes for Australians with cancer. The review shows that oncology is generally not well represented in medical school curricula, that few medical schools offer mandatory oncology or palliative care rotations, and that junior doctors are exhibiting declining oncology knowledge and skills. To address these issues, Australian medical schools should implement the Oncology Education Committee’s Ideal Oncology Curriculum, enact mandatory oncology and palliative care clinical rotations for students, and in doing so, appreciate the importance of students’ differing approaches to learning.

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