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End-terms Medical Physiology

Task Force Group on Physiology Education of the Federation of European Physiological Societies (FEPS)

Dear colleagues,

In a modern approach there is a strong tendency to formulate general end-terms of a curriculum such as medicine in the form of competencies, like in the CanMEDs*. Such competencies are built from integrated knowledge, skills and attitudes learned throughout the curriculum. Although this approach is very relevant for assessing the overall development of the medical student at the end of his/her education, there is still an underlying necessity for thorough knowledge and understanding of the basic sciences, such as Physiology. It is well appreciated that basic sciences support sound clinical reasoning, and therefore need to be defined properly. As such, a description of required knowledge in medical Physiology in the form of end-terms is completely valid. What is presented in the present document must be seen as the minimal required mastery (knowledge and understanding) of (patho) physiology at the end of the medical curriculum, i.e. at the end of the master phase, when applicable.
We did not intend to suggest in which part of the curriculum the knowledge, c.q. competence has to be acquired. The responsibility for this lies in the faculties of the individual European countries. Therefore the terms can be used as an underlying blueprint at any stage of the development of a medical curriculum. Our point of view was that the end-terms should be formulated as such that they are concrete, assessable, and attainable. The approach for organizing them follows the major body systems.
We are also fully aware of the fact that several teaching forms are applied throughout the universities of the European countries, ranging from classical, discipline-based, teacher-centered curricula with a clear separation between physiology and pathophysiology, to a more student-centered interdisciplinary approach such as used in problem-based curricula. Aside from that, we recognize that some medical faculties have already adopted the Bologna rules and organize their medical curricula embedded in a bachelor and master phase, while others have kept the classical approach of an integral curriculum. It is obvious that the attention for such basic sciences as Physiology will be highest in the initial (bachelor) phase of medical education. This does not exclude that – aside from rehearsing study material from the bachelor phase – also new material can be learned in the later (master) phase of the medical education.
The FEPS offers this overview to any of the national societies as a directive and is willing to support any specific request of these societies. At the end of the document we also provide a non-exhaustive list of Physiology textbooks, which we consulted throughout our preparatory work. This however does not mean that we advise the use of any particular book. The market is broad and many valuable textbooks are available. We have chosen for qualitative, general approachable, English written, textbooks.

The presented material is the result of documents provided by various persons on behalf of their medical faculties, countries and/or societies throughout Europe. For this support, we are strongly indebted to Dr. Ger van der Vusse, Maastricht University, Maastricht the Netherlands; Dr. Lennart Bouman, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Dr. Egidijus Kevelaitis, Kaunas University of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania; Dr. Dragan Djuric, University School of Medicine, Belgrade, Serbia; and Dr. Laszlo Hunyady, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary. We apologize if we - unintentionally - have forgotten to mention other collaborators.

Click here for the End-terms Medical Physiology

On behalf of the FEPS Task Force Group for Education in Physiology,

Prof. Dr. Liisa Peltonen University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland;
Prof. Dr. Martin Fischer, Private Universität Witten/Herdecke, Witten, Germany;
Prof. Dr. Richard Rokyta, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic;
Prof. Dr. Luc Snoeckx, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands, chairman

For information on the CanMEDs see