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Future Tense: Medicine in 2049

Bond University marked the 30th anniversary of its founding in 2019. Five of the university’s leading academics predict how their areas of expertise will change in the three decades leading up to the 60th anniversary in 2049.

Science and Scholar Theme Lead of Bond's Medical Program, Dr Christian Moro, gazes into the future of medicine in 2049.

In 1950, medical knowledge doubled every 50 years. In 1980 it was seven years, and in 2010, 3.5 years.

Today it would potentially take a health sciences or medical student more than 700 hours per month to evaluate the number of articles being published in medical literature.

Fast forward to 2049 and it is possible the number of science and medical publications may be in the tens of millions each year.

This will bring some very interesting challenges and changes to how we educate in health sciences and medicine, and we will need to consider how to best prepare students for their future workplaces.

In medicine, we will see more time devoted to teaching higher levels of search strategies and analytical skills, and the development of students’ abilities to evaluate quality data and research.

Dr Christian Moro

In health and biomedical sciences, this can be more complex, as preparing students to be work-ready is already challenging due to the highly varied nature of their career options.

In fact, graduates from health and biomedical sciences programs are often overwhelmed with opportunities. Do they pursue postgraduate studies in dietetics, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, medicine, or other patient-centred health professions? Or do they join industry, big pharma, biotechnology, education or medical device companies?

These career pathways are so varied, and developing so fast, it will be necessary for us to keep ahead of the changing landscape in each of these fields in order to ensure our students are work-ready.

As such, for on-campus health sciences education over the next 30 years the focus is likely to shift into the provision of unique and useful core and essential skills. These include critical thinking, statistical knowledge, technology proficiencies, and presentation skills.

Mastery of these skills will allow the science graduate to work effectively in a broad range of fields and contribute to an ever-advancing environment.

The ability to perform effective science communication, to work in multidisciplinary teams, and to make decisions ethically and responsibly is likely to be increasingly highly valued by employers.

These skills will become core components of the science curricula, replacing some of the forum-based and traditional learning content which is likely to be moved into online-learning modules.

This is more than simply changing curricula because it is hard to keep up with a rapidly-changing landscape, but a response to a dynamic and rapidly changing career landscape.

Overall, it is likely to be a positive trend as universities assist students to genuinely benefit from their health science degree over the long term. Graduating with a clear ability to think critically while they interact with the world around them will provide an effective ground for students to stand on as they enter the new and exciting future careers to be formed in health sciences and medicine.

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