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A trend or a Need’ Threshold Concepts in Medicine and Surgery; A Qualitative Synthesis


avatar Alia Amin 1 , 2 , *

1 Former Lecturer, University of Health Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan

2 CEO, Educational Research Foundation, Lahore, Pakistan

How to Cite: Amin A. A trend or a Need’ Threshold Concepts in Medicine and Surgery; A Qualitative Synthesis. J Med Edu. 2019;18(3):e105691.
doi: 10.22037/jme.v18i3.24147.


Journal of Medical Education: 18 (3); e105691
Published Online: January 11, 2020
Article Type: Review Article
Received: January 29, 2019
Accepted: December 16, 2019


Information overload, due the enthusiasm of curriculum developers for covering everything, is a grave problem today. In the context of medicine, information load is integral to the discipline because a doctor needs to be knowledgeable in order to identify and treat diseases. It raise a concern about how can students remember and apply this much information when they start their clinical placements? It poses compelling pressures on medical educators to devise ways to manage cognitive load without compromising the knowledge that is transferable to clinical setting which, otherwise, may limit students’ time on task to learn threshold concepts and promote rote learning. In this context threshold concept theory seems promising. This review is designed to explore TCs and potential usefulness in medicine and surgery. This qualitative synthesis of literature revealed that there are threshold concepts of knowing and practicing which every student must navigate and master during their training. Though there is growing body of evidence regarding need of adoption of threshold concept framework (TCF) in higher education, further research in needed in the field of medicine and surgery for operationalization of TCF.


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    References are available in the PDF file

© 2019, Journal of Medical Education. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.