Health professionals for a new century

More than 100 years after Abraham Flexner published a groundbreaking teaching concept for medicine, a Lancet report provides a new global initiative to reform the education of health professionals.

The healthcare sector is reliant on highly qualified personnel. But what training strategies can make it fit for the twenty-first century? In 1910, Abraham Flexner published a teaching concept for medicine which still has a considerable influence on training across all the various health professions. Since the principles of the nineteenth century no longer bear much relation to the challenges of the twenty-first century, the renowned journal “The Lancet” asked an international commission to perform an inventory. The result was the strategic paper entitled “Health professionals for a new century: transforming education to strengthen health systems in an interdependent world”, which makes a thoughtful case – backed up by examples – for the need for substantial reforms of the training available to health professionals.

Focusing on a globalised world

100 years after the Flexner report, the new reference work from the Lancet Commission shifts the focus of national training and supply systems to the interconnected nature of a globalised world. The national focus which previously dominated is no longer adequate in the wake of globalisation.

Each year, some 100 billion dollars are invested worldwide in the training of health professionals. Experience shows, however, that money alone is no guarantee that training will be fit for purpose. This is why the training system needs to pay particular attention to anticipating how requirements will develop over the long term in order to tailor training programmes and areas of learning accordingly. This is the only way to achieve and maintain the professionalism and expertise required.

New areas of focus

The Commission is therefore calling for new approaches and a new training strategy. New forms of learning such as skills-based models with a high degree of clinical relevance need to be developed further. The recommendations also focus on promoting joint learning across all groups of professionals, getting rid of the boundaries which currently exist at institutions and formulating new standards for quality assurance.

With the Lancet report entitled “Health Professionals for the 21st Century”, the Lancet Commission has come up with a coherent and forward-looking strategy to reform the training of health professionals. With its translation of the report, Careum wants to help embed this new strategy of the Lancet Commission – along with the newly aligned training content – within innovative training institutions across the German-speaking countries of Europe.

The following contacts are available at Careum to answer questions:
Prof. Dr. Ilona Kickbusch, member of the foundation council at Careum, e-mail

Ordering a paper version:
A printed version of the report by the Lancet Commission can be ordered from the following address:

Careum Publishing
Moussonstrasse 4
CH-8044 Zurich
T +41 43 222 51 50

Further information:
Find out more about the Lancet Commission and the Lancet report

Downloads Downloads


Careum Education Management

Pestalozzistrasse 3
CH-8032 Zurich

T +41 43 222 50 00