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Medicine Degree

The following legislation regulates the medical profession in Spain:

  • Directive 2005/36/CE on the recognition of professional qualifications.
  • Law 44/2003, of 21 November 2003, on Organization of Health Professions (LOPS).
  • Accord of the Council of Ministers, of 17 December 2007, establishing the conditions regulating the educational programs required to complete the qualifications necessary for the professional practice of medicine.
  • Order ECI/332/2008, of 13 February 2008, establishing the requirements for validating the official university degrees necessary for the professional practice of medicine.

In particular, the Directive 2005/36/CE states that "Basic medical training shall comprise a total of at least six years of study or 5500 hours of theoretical and practical training provided by, or under the supervision of, a university". Further to this, Article 24.3 states that "Basic medical training shall provide an assurance that the person in question has acquired the following knowledge and skills

  • adequate knowledge of the sciences on which medicine is based and a good understanding of the scientific methods including the principles of measuring biological functions, the evaluation of scientifically established facts and the analysis of data;
  • sufficient understanding of the structure, functions and behavior of healthy and sick persons, as well as relations between the state of health and physical and social surroundings of the human being;
  • adequate knowledge of clinical disciplines and practices, providing him with a coherent picture of mental and physical diseases, of medicine from the points of view of prophylaxis, diagnosis and therapy and of human reproduction;
  • suitable clinical experience in hospitals under appropriate supervision."

Moreover, Article 6.2a of the LOPS states the following: "Doctors: Medicine graduates will identify and conduct activities for promoting and maintaining health, prevent illnesses, and advance the diagnosis, treatment, therapeutics, and rehabilitation of patients, as well as assessing and prognosticating the processes under consideration."

The academic, professional, and scientific relevance of the Medicine Degree does not need further justification. Doctors and physicians have existed since Antiquity, and the tradition of medical education can be traced back to the establishment of the first universities. Indeed, the professional practice of medicine has existed, in one form or another, in every human culture.

The 1983 University Reform Law was a turning point for medical education. The so-called Group IX, an expert committee created by the Council of Universities, was tasked with preparing the case for reforming the Medicine and Surgery degree. This document, applied in all Spanish Medical Schools, was based on the main objectives and goals defined in the EU medical educational programs. As a member of the European Union, Spain had to be readied for the free circulation of professionals starting from 1995. The new regulations were approved by a Royal Decree of 26 October 1990, but every Medical School was given the freedom to design its own curriculum.

The implementation of the European Higher Education Area was the main force driving this reform. The National Conference of Deans of Spanish medical Schools made a concerted effort to create an educational program adapted to the current biomedical care and research needs of Spanish society. Their proposal, defined in the White Book on the Medicine Degree, considered the experience and guidelines implemented in other countries. This White Book established a learning approach focused on the students' acquisition of skills and educational objectives at different levels while respecting the autonomy of each Medical School.

The Albacete Medical School at the University of Castilla-La Mancha has been teaching a Medicine Degree since its inception in 1998. Its main focus has always been on educational innovation. Their proposals have had a great impact on the plan presented here—particularly regarding the organization of teaching, educational methodologies, and assessment systems (i.e., the Objective Structured Clinical Examination, OSCE). At the same time, there has been a marked increase in student enrolment. During the eleven years in which the Albacete Medical School has been in existence, there has been a total of 11,537 student preregistrations—that is, 1,049 on average per academic year. These numbers have increased in the last three years (1,718 in 2007–2008, 1,497 in 2008–2009), with the total number of medical students for the first time being above 906 (with an average of 82 first-year students per year).

The increase in first-year students over the last few years can probably be attributed, among other factors, to the performance of the six classes of UCLM medicine graduates that have taken the MIR (Medical Residency Entrance) exam. After ten years of training medical students, the number of first-year students for the academic year 2009–2010 has now risen to 105.

From a professional and social viewpoint, according to the last report of the Spanish Health Ministry (4 March 2009) on the demand for specialist doctors, it was estimated that 3,200 new specialists would be necessary by 2008 (a 2% increase). This report also warned that if these positions were not covered, the demand would increase 5% by 2015 and 14% by 2025 (i.e., around 25,000 new specialists). It is important to consider that it is estimated 54,000 current doctors will retire during the period 2016–2026.

The curriculum of the Medicine Degree at the Albacete Medical School is based on the educational and research experience acquired over the last eleven years, during which we have developed a learning methodology based on the development and assessment of student-focused professional competencies.

Therefore, from an academic and scientific viewpoint, the justification for the present proposal is based on the educational, research, and management experience of this School—which, in the short period it has existed, has achieved a 5th position among the top Spanish Medical Schools (El Mundo newspaper, 5 May 2009).

On the other hand, the increasing interest from students, together with the demand for medical professionals both in the region and at a national level, has made the regional government and the UCLM consider it advisable and appropriate to create a new Medical School in the Ciudad Real Campus—home to the recently created Ciudad Real General Hospital, which was equipped with the facilities and services necessary to become a benchmark center from a clinical and research perspective. Therefore, the Governing Board of the University of Castilla-La Mancha approved on the 17th of April the proposal of the 1st of April 2008 from the Government of the Autonomous Community of Castilla-La Mancha for a Medicine Degree to be offered at the Ciudad Real campus. Said proposal was also approved by the Social Board of the UCLM on the 9th of May 2008.

Finally, the proposal for the new Ciudad Real Medical School was endorsed by the Governing Board of the UCLM on the 2nd of May 2010 and the Social Board of the UCLM on the 12th of May 2010, with final approval being then granted by the Community Board of Castilla-La Mancha