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Generalism in medical education

Recently, the Royal College launched an initiative to achieve national consensus on the concept of generalism in medical education and practice.

This process helped the college and its stakeholders to:

  • Better understand the definitions of generalism in medical education
  • Understand the implications for policy and health human resource planning
  • Support generalism in medical education in Canada

The Final Report of the Generalism and Generalist Task Force was developed in accordance with findings and deliberations resulting from the 2012 Canadian Consensus Conference on Generalism in Medicine, and refined following review by the summit attendees and the task force.

Attendees proposed separate definitions of “generalism” and “generalist” to lend clarity to the terminology:

  • Generalism is a philosophy of care distinguished by a commitment to the breadth of practice within each discipline and collaboration with the larger health care team in order to respond to patient and community needs.
  • Generalists are a specific set of physicians and surgeons with core abilities characterized by a broad-based practice. Generalists diagnose and manage clinical problems that are diverse, undifferentiated, and often complex. Generalists also have an essential role in coordinating patient care and advocating for patients.

The final report outlines the proposed definitions and implications for health human resources planning, medical education, and access to care. In addition, the Royal College is also working on a major systematic review regarding the concepts of Generalism and Generalist in the medical education literature.