Building a research agenda in health professions education at a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences: Current research profile and future considerations
Background. To generate evidence in and for health professions education (HPE) that can enable reform and establish new relevance, a comprehensive
HPE research foundation is required. Gaps identified in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) HPE literature should be addressed, while a need for more
clarificatory and collaborative research to strengthen evidence has been expressed. Relatively few HPE centres exist in SSA. At Stellenbosch
University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) the Centre for HPE was established in 2006, followed by an HPE Research Unit in 2011.
Objectives. To determine and analyse the current status of educational research in the FMHS, thereby contributing to conversations around an HPE
research agenda for Africa.
Methods. A database of all HPE-related research was compiled, followed by a desktop analysis of all documents pertaining to current educational
research projects in the FMHS in 2012, categorising projects according to: general information; sites where research was conducted; research focus;
and research purpose. All data were recorded in an Excel spreadsheet and a descriptive analysis was performed.
Results. There were 106 projects, mostly aimed at undergraduate programmes. More than half focused on teaching and learning, while a few focused
on assessment. A number of projects were community-based or involved national and/or international collaborations. Only 20% of projects were
classified as clarification research.
Discussion. Educational research appears healthy in the FMHS, but more clarificatory and macro-projects are required. The profile of research is
similar to the SSA profile. A research strategy relevant and feasible in our context has to be established with a shift to areas beyond our professional/
institutional boundaries, posing HPE questions of relevance to South Africa and the African continent.
Juanita Bezuidenhout, Centre for Health Professions Education, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Susan van Schalkwyk, Centre for Health Professions Education, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Ben van Heerden, Centre for Health Professions Education, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Marietjie de Villiers, Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
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Date published: 2014-10-29
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