What Is Implementation Science and What Forces Are Driving a Change in Medical Education?

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Evidence-based interventions to improve health care and medical education face multiple complex barriers to adoption and success. Implementation science focuses on the period following research dissemination, which is necessary but insufficient to address important gaps in clinician performance and patient outcomes. This article describes the forces on health care institutions, medical schools, physician clinicians, and trainees that have created the imperative to design educational interventions to address the gap between evidence and practice. These forces include accreditation, certification, licensure, and regulatory and research funding initiatives focused on improving the quality of health professions education and clinical practice. Medical educators must expand their focus on “what to change” to include “how to change” in order to prepare health care professionals and institutions to effectively adopt new evidence-based practices to improve patient, and ultimately population, outcomes.

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