gms | German Medical Science

Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA)

05.10. - 08.10.2011, München

Chemistry in medical education: What is relevant?


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Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA). München, 05.-08.10.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11gma109

doi: 10.3205/11gma109, urn:nbn:de:0183-11gma1093

Veröffentlicht: 26. September 2011

© 2011 Oettl et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open Access-Artikel und steht unter den Creative Commons Lizenzbedingungen ( Er darf vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden, vorausgesetzt dass Autor und Quelle genannt werden.



Question: The question how much and what kind of chemistry is necessary and good for a medical curriculum is a matter of controversy and depends on the premedical education [1], [2], [3]. A problem in the first year of education is the low acceptance of basic sciences by medical students [4]. To have a basis for curriculum development in chemsitry focussed on medical and clinical context and relevance we wanted to know which topics taught currently in the chemistry courses are needed for clinical practice, which could be reduced and which have to be expanded.

Methods: Using a questionnaire (paper/pencil and e-mail, respectively) we asked 5th year students and their instructors to grade the chemical topics for their relevance for clinical practice. Evaluation of the questionnaires was carried out by quantitative content analysis.

Results: We found clear differences concerning the grading of clinical relevance of different chemical contents. On the one hand the “chemistry of natural compounds” and the “chemistry of acids, bases and buffers” were rated as “well needed” and even as “not sufficiently taught”. On the other hand, the topics “thermodynamics” and “periodic table of the elements” were clearly rated as “to be shortened”. Despite differences the rankings of students and teachers were surprisingly similar.

Conclusion: The data obtained provide the basis for a revision of the contents of chemistry in our curriculum of human medicine. It is important to adapt the contents not only in a quantitative manner but also to teach in a way that allows the contents to be applied by the learners, in other words to advance transfer [5]. Our intention is to teach chemical contents in a way that future general practitioners as well as medical scientists will need and medical students can accept.


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