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Publication Detail
‘Decolonising the Medical Curriculum‘: Humanising medicine through epistemic pluralism, cultural safety and critical consciousness
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Lokugamage A, Gishen F, Wong S
  • Publisher:
    UCL Press
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    1, 22
  • Journal:
    London Review of Education
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Keywords:
    decolonising, medical curriculum, epistemic pluralism, cultural safety
The Decolonising the Curriculum movement in higher education has been steadily gaining momentum, accelerated by recent global events calling for an appraisal of the intersecting barriers of discrimination that ethnic minorities can encounter. While the arts and humanities have been at the forefront of these efforts, medical education has been a ‘late starter’ to the initiative. In this article, we describe the pioneering efforts to decolonise the undergraduate medical curriculum at UCL Medical School (UCLMS), London, by a group of clinician educators and students, with the aim of training emerging doctors to treat diverse patient populations equitably and effectively. Throughout this process, students, faculty and members of the public acted as collaborative ‘agents of change’ in co-producing curricula, prompting the implementation of several changes in the UCLMS curriculum and rubric. Reflecting a shift from a diversity-oriented to a decolonial framework, we outline three scaffolding concepts to frame the process of decolonising the medical curriculum: epistemic pluralism, cultural safety and critical consciousness. While each of these reflect a critical area of power imbalance within medical education, the utility of this framework extends beyond this, and it may be applied to interrogate curricula in other health-related disciplines and the natural sciences. We suggest how the medical curriculum can privilege perspectives from different disciplines to challenge the hegemony of the biomedical outlook in contemporary medicine – and offer space to perspectives traditionally marginalised within a colonial framework. We anticipate that through this process of re-centring, medical students will begin to think more holistically, critically and reflexively about the intersectional inequalities within clinical settings, health systems and society at large, and contribute to humanising the practice of medicine for all parties involved.
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