Archives of Medicine and Health Sciences

: 2019  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 265--266

Fourth Industrial revolution and health professions education

Ajay Telang 
 Dean, Penang International Dental College, Penang, Malaysia

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ajay Telang
Dean, Penang International Dental College, Penang


Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) described as the biggest change that has begun, is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. Its fundamentals are Artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, internet of things (IoT), and big data analytics. This paper presents the impact, challenges and the way forward for Health Professions Education(HPE) to adapt to 4IR.

How to cite this article:
Telang A. Fourth Industrial revolution and health professions education.Arch Med Health Sci 2019;7:265-266

How to cite this URL:
Telang A. Fourth Industrial revolution and health professions education. Arch Med Health Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Sep 27 ];7:265-266
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Full Text

“Every industrial revolution brings along a Learning revolution”

– Alexander De Croo

Industrial revolution is described as the period in history when people applied power to manufacturing industry.[1] TheFirst Industrial Revolution started between late 1700 and early 1800 due to discovery of steam power which brought about mechanized production. The Second Industrial Revolution (1820–1870) used electric power to create mass production. The Third Industrial Revolution (1980s onwards) used electronics, semiconductors, digital circuits, and computers, bringing about the Digital Revolution or the Information Age. It shrunk the world into a global community and transformed our daily lives in all areas including health professions.[2]

What began as the “Information Age,” it has led to the development of digital technologies, which is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. This change is now described as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and its fundamentals are artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, internet of things (IoT), and big data analytics.

 Impact of the Industrial Revolutions on Education

The industrial revolution initiated the rise of capitalism in Europe and North America. Motivated individuals could easily take advantage of the many economic opportunities of the situation, but the average person would need to be educated to do so. In the mid to late 1800s, schools became the mechanism for survival and for the first time a means of upward mobility in the society.[1] The direct impact of the industrial revolution on education is truly what defines education as we know it. The growth of factories and the homogenization of people to the schedule of industry spawned the “factory model” for schools to follow. Education in general moved away from a right of the privileged to a societal necessity. A growing democracy was mimicked closely by a changing educational system.[1] This, in turn, impacted the way in which health professional education was delivered. From the traditional classroom “Sage on the Stage” approach during the first and second industrial revolutions – the modern classroom of “Guide by the side” approach was encouraged. This was also due to the fact that digital technologies, such as the internet, provided access to global experts and social networking and interaction empowered learners and transformed the role of teachers into facilitators. Furthermore, traditional discipline-based curriculums underwent reviews and were redesigned into problem-based, inquiry-based, integrated curriculums with a student-centered approach. While assessments, moved from strictly patient-based to structured-simulated assessments that test not just knowledge, but also skills and attitudes of learners. Thus, from an unorganized system, the concept of formal centers for higher learning and universities were established. These centers became the melting pot for cultural interaction and expansion of knowledge, research, and scholarship, all of which progressed through the industrial revolutions.

 Challenges and Impact of Fourth Industrial Revolution

Historically, the first three industrial revolutions impacted people's lives with opportunities to improve income, by providing different jobs other than agriculture. However, with regard to the 4IR, which has begun since few years, deep fears are present in the mid of coexisting expectations and worries.[3] The most important issues resulting from 4IR are unemployment and displacement of jobs due to automation, digitization, robotics, and AI. The 4IR will represent a fundamental change in the way we live, work, and relate to one another.[4] It is a new chapter in the human development, enabled by technology advances that are commensurate with those of the first, second, and third industrial revolutions, and which are merging the physical, digital, and biological worlds in ways that create both promise and peril.[4]

Health professions education (HPE) will require upgrading curriculums in a way as to avoid over loading of content, while ensuring teaching, learning and assessment are prepared for digital natives (Generation Z-born after 2012). Digital natives are the new citizens of digital societies that lead to information societies and knowledge societies. Digital natives are involved in networks, collaborative working, and collective intelligence. They learn in new ways and must be taught differently.[5] HPE teaching and learning methods should include AI such as virtual reality and augmented reality. The quality of simulation based training will further improve with advancement in haptic technology. Interprofessional education needs to be expanded to provide opportunity to learn, research, and work together with not just health professions but also engineering and technical fields, because, as the landscape of new technologies rapidly change, this close interaction will help widen its application in health professions and ease its adaptation in the future.

 The Way Forward in Health Professions Education

The 4IR will transform HPE learners into teachers with the power of producing and sharing content freely which can be accessed globally and the role of educators will that of a resource guide.[6] HPEs will need to review and revise curriculums, teaching and learning approach, and assessment methods with a foresight to adapt it for the future learners. Inclusion of flexible components in the curriculum for example- credits for student exchange, work-based learning experience, innovation and entrepreneurship would help motivate future learners. Also, an emphasis on student directed learning (heutagogy), peer learning, cybergogy and implementation of integrated assessments will also help HPEs prepare for 4IR.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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2Sardana M. Institute for Studies in Industrial Development; 2017. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Oct 15].
3Chang SG. The fourth industrial revolution and changes in the future medical world. J Korean Med Assoc 2017;60:856-8.
4World Economic Forum; 15 October, 2019. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Oct 15].
5Cornu B. UNESDOC Digital Library; 2011. Available from: [Last accessed on 2019 Oct 15].
6Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia. Framing Malaysian Higher Education 4.0- Future Proof Talents. Putrajaya: Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia; 2018.