METHODS: Information was obtained from published records, responses from various questionnaires, personal communication and involvement with curricular development.
RESULTS: Curricular innovations tended to be implemented in new medical schools upon their establishment. Established medical schools seemed to implement these innovations much later. Curricular trends appear to move towards integration, student-centred and problem-based learning as well as community-oriented medical education, with the Student-centred learning, Problem-based learning, Integrated teaching, Community-based education, Electives and Systematic programme (SPICES) model used as a reference. The focus is based on the premise that although the short-term aim of undergraduate medical education in Malaysia is to prepare graduates for the pre-registration house officer year, they must be able to practise and make decisions independently and be sensitive to the needs of the country's multiracial, multi-religious, and often remote communities.
CONCLUSION: In most cases, curricular planning starts with a prescriptive model where planners focus on several intended outcomes. However, as the plan is implemented and evaluated it becomes descriptive as the planners reassess the internal and external factors that affect outcomes. A common trend in community-oriented educational activities is evident, with the introduction of interesting variations, to ensure that the curriculum can be implemented, sustained and the intended outcomes achieved.