Health professions education scholarship: The emergence, current status, and future of a discipline in its own right

Olle ten Cate*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Medical education, as a domain of scholarly pursuit, has enjoyed a remarkably rapid development in the past 70 years and is now more commonly known as health professions education (HPE) scholarship. Evidenced by a solid increase of publications, numbers of specialized journals, professional associations, national and international conferences, academies for medical educators, masters and doctoral courses, and the establishment of many units of HPE scholarship, the domain of HPE education scholarship has matured into a scholarly discipline in its own right. In this contribution, the author reviews the developments of the field from Boyer's four criteria that determine scholarship: discovery, integration, application, and teaching. Born mid-20th century, and in the first decades developed in the predominant area of physician education, HPE scholarship has matured, with increasing breadth, depth, and volume of scholars, publications, conferences, and dedicated centers for research and development. The author concludes that, given the infrastructure that has emerged, HPE can arguably be considered a discipline in its own right. This academic question may not matter hugely for practices of scholarly work in this domain, and any stance in this academic debate inevitably reflects a personal view, but the author would support the view of health professions scholarship as being a unique niche, with inherent dependence on both medical and other health professional sciences, on the one hand, and social sciences, including educational sciences, on the other hand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-522
Number of pages13
JournalFASEB BioAdvances
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • conferences
  • health professions education
  • History
  • medical education
  • publications
  • scholarship


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