gms | German Medical Science

GMS Journal for Medical Education

Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA)

ISSN 2366-5017

Prof. Dr. med. Hans Renschler, geb. 18.04.1925 – gest. 30.04.2011

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  • corresponding author Florian Eitel - Honorary Chairman of the Society for Medical Education, Pullach, Germany; Medical Faculty of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Munich, Germany

GMS Z Med Ausbild 2011;28(4):Doc46

doi: 10.3205/zma000758, urn:nbn:de:0183-zma0007584

This is the English version of the article.
The German version can be found at:

Received: October 18, 2011
Revised: October 18, 2011
Accepted: October 18, 2011
Published: November 15, 2011

© 2011 Eitel.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.


See now, the gods, they are weeping, the goddesses all weeping also,
That the beauteous must fade, that the most perfect one dies.
But to be a lament on the lips of the loved one is glorious,
For the prosaic goes toneless to Orcus below.
From Nänie by Friedrich Schiller

Shortly after having reached the age of 86, Prof Hans Renschler left us on 30.4.2011 forever after a prolonged period of serious illness. The members of the Society of Medical Education are all mourning an admirable colleague, high-calibre scientist and great pioneer of medical education. We fondly remember his thoughtful and insightful advice, which he occasionally gave with method-oriented rigor but nonetheless in a warm and understanding way. Hans Renschler was one of the great medical educationalists who will be sorely missed now in this time of change, university reform and the development of medical education.

He penned his first publication on education in 1947 during his second years of medical studies. Upon graduating, he embarked upon a hands-on career at the Medical Polyclinic of the University of Heidelberg, where he also received his doctorate summa cum laude. In 1953 he won a scholarship from the British Council for a research position at the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Sheffield, where Sir Hans Adolf Krebs had discovered the metabolic cycle which bears his name and for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1953.

In 1956 Hans Renschler returned to Germany, to the University Hospital Marburg, where he worked for the internist Schwiegk, a student of his PhD supervisor Öhme, where he began to apply the methods he had acquired in England in the study of the water and electrolyte balance.

Renschler Hans then joined the H.E. Bock Clinic in Tübingen where he worked in the intracardiac catheter laboratory under Schölmerich.

In 1962 he returned to his former teacher Plügge in Heidelberg and in 1964 received the Venia legendi. Hans Renschler then moved to the Medical University Clinic Cologne under Rudolf Gross in 1965 as a senior physician.

In Cologne Hans Renschler was increasingly engaged in the methods of medical training and set up a working group of for educational issues. He obtained outside funding from the Volkswagen Foundation for the development of an audiovisual course in cardiac auscultation.

As a visiting scholar with Sir Graham Wilson in Glasgow, he worked with Ronald Harden who was shortly thereafter appointed to the teaching chair at the University of Dundee and as Emeritus and Secretary General of the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE), which is still active today. Initiating collegial cooperation between the Society for Medical Education (GMA), founded in 1978, with AMEE was also due to Hans Renschler efforts to a large extent. This is yet another indication of one of his talents, the forging of social and collegial relationships. Without his strength as a networker, it would have been hard for him to succeed to keep the cause of medical education alive during times of adversity. In those days, one could easily lose one’s scientific reputation through involvement in education. Perhaps he had this failing in mind when he vehemently demanded and promoted science-based education and educational research. In any case, it was not easy for his generation of university teachers to follow a career in medical education, which however did not prevent Prof Renschler from fully dedicating himself to the issue from the early 1970s onwards.

When the Institute for Medical and Pharmaceutical Examination Issues (IMPP) was established in 1971/72, he applied for the post of head of the department of medicine and also for the teaching chair at the medical faculty at the University of Bonn. Faced with his impending departure, his colleagues in Cologne tried to respond by submitting a petition to the dean of the medical faculty, encouraging the institutionalisation of the subject educational research by establishing a chair with its own associated ward.

At the height of his successful scientific career, Hans Renschler was appointed full professor for the Teaching of Medicine at the University of Bonn in 1973.

Always committed to the scientific approach, he studied the “case method” (case-based learning), which he had inaugurated, teaching methods in medical under and postgraduate education and the use of computers and new media in medical education in numerous publications. Early on, forward-looking topics such as evaluation and quality management and quality circles in education attracted his interest, indicating that his thinking in many ways was ahead of his time. Medical data processing, literature searches and library work and the historical development of medical education have been the subject of his research and teaching.

He constantly sought international contact and was a welcome guest speaker in the UK, the USA, Switzerland and China. He was a member of international organizations for medical education and was elected to several national and international scientific advisory boards.

Professor Renschler lived and breathed teaching. For example, at home in Bonn he organised English courses for his students, first as instructor-centred seminars and then using the format of problem-based learning. Some of his students’ seminar papers have been published in respected medical journals. The students continued to run the seminars, partly during their holidays, on their own. Promoting independent learning for him was an indispensable condition. He wanted to train self-determined and method-conscious doctors with a critical approach to responsibility and for this purpose he considered practical/clinical medical experience and scientific expertise of the teaching staff as indispensable. If he felt that this teaching goal was impossible to realise in certain situations, he did not hesitate to refuse or withdraw from avocations and positions, even if they were prestigious.

In the first five years of his appointment to the newly founded Institute for the Teaching of Medicine in 1973, Professor Renschler managed to obtain the then unimaginable sum of 3.2 million Deutschmarks of external funding for education and the development of audio-visual or computer-based teaching programs. In interdisciplinary collaboration with psychologists, he developed computer-based teaching programs, which he also used in the evaluation of teaching.

An essential aspect of his didactic work was his collaboration with the State Medical Chamber in the development of the curriculum for continuous education in Hesse.

His teacher H.E. Bock described Hans Renschler’s educational achievements as pioneering and his student Prof Ute Fuchs on the occasion of his 70th birthday wrote that “to debate with him was always an experience and I always find critical engagement with the topics of medical education and training and its methodology very stimulating. His academic commitment and especially his joy of life are contagious. I feel privileged and enriched knowing him. I wish Prof Renschler a very happy birthday, which he will celebrate with his family, relatives and friends in the USA with his son Mark on the 19th of April 1995 and hope the will spend many more happy years in good health with his family.”

These apt words evoke in us the memory of an original and inspiring university teacher, a caring mentor whom many students liked to entrust themselves to, the critical scientist who always acted collegial and last but not least the caring family man. Meeting him and his witty wife in their beautiful and hospitable house on the Venusberg in Bonn always gave the visitor the soothing impression of great harmony. And having told us, with sparkling eyes, of his hobbies - the planting of bamboos and cricket - one took an even greater liking to him.

We will cherish the memory of Prof Karl Eugen Eberhard Renschler.

We wish to extend our sincere condolences to his family and our respectful remembrance.

Competing interests

The author declare that he has no competing interests.