Partners in medical education in Myanmar

| 08 Aug 2018

Dr Peter Harris and his team are supporting one of Myanmar's leading medical universities to advance its medicine programs, lifting the quality of graduates and teaching, and the overall standard of medical practice in the country. With an enhanced program, the university will also satisfy obligatory learning outcomes.

The Challenge: New education standards require significant curriculum change

University of Medicine 2 (UM2) is one of two medical schools in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar. Established in 1963, UM2 currently employs 218 teaching staff and over 2,000 students. It is involved in the undergraduate and postgraduate training of doctors in two of Yangon’s largest teaching hospitals: North Okkalapa General Hospital and Insein General Hospital. Visiting clinicians and researchers from the Kirby Institute currently support UM2 undergraduate and postgraduate students at these hospitals. Myanmar’s Ministry of Health has set new learning outcomes for medical Universities, like UM2, to achieve. These outcomes require UM2 to significantly change its curriculum.

UNSW's solution: Assess current program, upskill teachers, advise on creation of new program

Through their relationship with the Kirby Institute, UM2 requested support with updating their curriculum to meet the Ministry’s learning outcomes. The Kirby Institute recommended Peter Harris from the Office of Medical Education. Peter has extensive experience in developing medical education programs in South East Asian countries.

In June 2018, Peter visited UM2 to meet with their staff and gain an understanding of the current medical education programs and identify areas for improvement. He also held workshops for staff on quality medical programs, assessment, small group learning, and writing learning outcomes. In late 2018, Peter will again visit UM2 to further his understanding and to run three workshops on case-based scenarios for teaching, writing integrated assessments, and group assignments.

Peter anticipates the process of revising the curriculum will take four to five years. With further funding he will look to take UNSW researchers from different medical disciplines to UM2 so they can advise on program advancements. He will also run further workshops for staff to build capacity in line with new programs. Once UM2 teaching staff have a clear picture of what their undergraduate and postgraduate programs should look like, they will be encouraged to write, plan and execute new programs under the advice of Peter and other UNSW researchers. As the relationship builds, opportunities for student and staff exchange, research collaborations and independent learning projects will arise, as well as the chance for UM2 staff and students to spend time at UNSW.

The Impact: Improve the quality of medicine programs and skills of students and teaching staff

UNSW Medicine’s work will support UM2 to develop high quality programs for undergraduates and postgraduates that satisfy the government’s learning outcomes. In the process, UM2 staff will be upskilled in the latest education standards and techniques. Higher quality programs will produce higher quality graduates, lifting the standard of medical practice in the country and increasing the chance for graduates to work abroad to broaden and deepen their experience. The project will also afford UNSW medical students the opportunity to study at UM2 and its affiliated hospitals, broadening and deepening their experience.

Lead Researcher

Dr Peter Harris is a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Education at UNSW. He has previously assisted in the development of medical education programs in south-east Asian nations, including PNG, Cambodia, Thailand and the Pacific. Peter is also a member of the International Consortium for Competency Based Medical Education. Peter is passionate about setting clear goals for students and developing effective learning pathways toward enhancing medical care for patients and the community.


Dr Peter Harris; Dr Josh Hanson; Professor Gary Velan; Ms Liza Doyle