Concept: Undergraduate medical students can be taught entirely through distance learning.
Background: Undergraduate medical education (UGME) is currently available predominantly to
an elite minority of students with resources. There are probably many students who might have
become excellent doctors, if only they had had an opportunity to undertake a flexible and less
Proposal: In UGME, there is a tendency to underestimate the capabilities of medical students
and overemphasize the importance of teachers. Educators of late consider medical students as
adult learners capable of managing their learning needs; teachers are facilitators guiding them in
the right direction. If there is one branch of study eminently suited to distance learning, it is
probably UGME. The teaching program should be planned meticulously and executed with care.
With the support of available resources in information technology, it is time to consider UGME
through distance learning.
Why: A course in distance learning will be inexpensive. It will foster lifelong learning because
self-directed learning was started in the beginning. A large number of students will benefit; they
will hopefully serve their communities better than doctors from mainstream medical schools.
Discussion: Harden’s CRISIS criteria for CME, suit the planning of this course. The advantages
and disadvantages, educational strategies for teaching-learning and assessment, selection of
students and faculty, mentoring and feedback for this course will be discussed.
Conclusion: With meticulous planning, IT support and help from medical schools of
international standing, distance learning in UGME is an inexpensive, feasible option benefiting a
large number of students.