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e-Health: Virtual Medical School Created by Colleges in 16 Countries
Led by Scotland's University of Dundee, an international group of medical schools are
trying to create the world's first online medical school. More than 50 institutions in 16
countries have helped plan the International Virtual Medical School, which its organizers
plan to open in the summer of 2004.
The virtual school would allow students around the world to pursue a medical education
through a combination of computer-based learning and clinical experience in local health
facilities. The goal is to counteract the "brain drain" of students from developing countries
who, having left to pursue a medical education, often don't return.
The individual medical schools participating in the project will grant degrees. Because
each one is already accredited, graduates of the virtual program would be unlikely to run
into any accreditation obstacles to practicing medicine, the school’s organizers say.
Like those enrolled in traditional programs, students in the virtual medical school would
spend their first two years immersed in an intensive study of basic sciences and the next
two to three years applying their knowledge in clinical settings. But instead of learning in a
classroom, they would take online courses, engage in online group activities with other
students around the world, and tap into computerized databases and "virtual practices."
During the first two years of the curriculum, about 70 percent of the students' time would