“Learning to Learn”: a Paradigm that Composes Medical Education Systems

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Júlia Demuner, a medical student at Universidade Vila Velha, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

‌Education is in a process of change, however, the maintenance of the status quo under innovations, reforms or transformations is still evident. In schools and universities, there is a wide predominance of traditional classes, a mirror of transmission pedagogy, with desks all lined up, facing the blackboard, the teacher speaking, and students taking notes on the presentation with the aim of preparing a “notebook study for exams”.

However, especially in the scenario of medical education, it is certainly not possible to accept the student as a mere passive spectator of learning. Updating the concept of health and its care model requires an active and differentiated participation by students in the teaching-learning process, with the development of autonomous activities and reflections that result in a growing degree together with the other actors involved in teaching the Health Sciences.

In this scenario, it is up to students to be involved and interested, from the earliest periods, in activities related to the promotion, prevention, rehabilitation and recovery of health and, for the achievement of such objectives, the construction of autonomy in the pedagogical context is essential. In this way, it is possible to apply the current “learning to learn” pedagogical paradigm to medical education, specifically to the training of health professionals who must “learn to be” (to be a doctor), “learn to do” (the student of medicine learn by doing), “learn to live together” (work as a team) and “learn to know” (including its limitations).

Therefore, it is believed that, in the new pedagogical processes centered on student autonomy, the motivating environment and interpersonal relationships with colleagues, with the course and with teachers are fundamental for the effective development of the student, who starts to assume an active role and is responsible for their own learning. This facilitates the creation of cognitive, behavioral and affective maturation, in which the exercise of freedom, creativity, teamwork and non-completion of training are considered fundamental for academic-professional success.

Therefore, throughout medical training, the student must be an active agent, encouraging his colleagues to study and appropriate the contents considered relevant, differentiating himself from the traditional teaching student, who often experiences teaching as a mere transmission of information. In this regard, the indispensability of the dialectical relationship between the teacher-student pair is highlighted, as it is from this relationship that respect for the student’s autonomy emerges, the foundation for an education that takes into account the individual as a being who builds his or her own life. own history, dealing with their limits and the limits of the other, facing and overcoming them, thus promoting a true transformation of education and of themselves.

Therefore, students must act as leaders of their academic-professional training and, together with professors, need to engender efforts, fine-tune strategies and offer logistical support to transform the traditional system that often mitigates medical schools’ access to innovations, reforms and curricular modernizations.


1. Kornatsu RS. Educação Médica: Responsabilidade de Quem? Em Busca dos Sujeitos da 

Educação do Novo Século. Revista Brasileira de Educação Médica. 2002;26(1):55-61. doi:10.1590/1981-5271v26.1-009]

2. Silva GEG e. A Educação Médica e o Sistema de Saúde. Revista Brasileira de Educação Médica. 2002;26(2):125-127. doi:10.1590/1981-5271v26.2-008

3. Lúcia M, Andréia Patrícia Gomes, Minardi R, Siqueira-Batista R. A AUTONOMIA DO ESTUDANTE NA EDUCAÇÃO MÉDICA. Revista da JOPIC. 2020;3(6). Accessed January 25, 2023. https://revista.unifeso.edu.br/index.php/jopic/article/view/2041/815

About the author

Júlia Demuner is a medical student at Universidade Vila Velha, Brazil. Júlia constantly seeks a multidisciplinary training beyond the academic sphere, working in extension projects, entrepreneurship and in the production of books and articles that aim to promote the dissemination of scientific knowledge in the community.

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