Professor Judy McKimm describes how she initially got into medical education and her contributions to AMEE initiatives.
I came into medical education quite by chance really. I’d initially trained as an orthopaedic and general nurse, but was really interested in teaching and, after working in a training role for the Royal National Institute for the Blind, I moved into Further Education (provision primarily for 16-19 year olds and adult learners) and worked there as a lecturer for seven years running and developing programmes for aspiring health professionals and women returning to work after a career break. Like school teaching, lecturing in a College involves a heavy teaching contact load (typically 20-25 hours a week) and this is where I really learned how to work with (often very disaffected) students to facilitate their learning. I realized too that I needed to learn about educational theory as well as practice and so during my time there, obtained a Cert Ed and MA (Education) and started an MBA as I knew I wanted to move into educational management at some point.
After seven years at the FE College, I wanted to do something different and noticed a job advertised in medical education as a ‘curriculum facilitator’, thought it looked interesting, applied, and was offered the job, starting in early 1994 at Charing Cross & Westminster Medical School (which subsequently merged into Imperial College London). The UK General Medical Council had just published their first ‘blueprint’ for undergraduate medical education, Tomorrow’s Doctors, and I, along with 25 other curriculum facilitators (one in each of the then 26 UK schools) had the responsibility of facilitating and co-ordinating the review and development of undergraduate programmes to meet the GMC requirements. It was such an exciting time to be in medical education and I very quickly realized that, although I ‘knew education’ pretty well, medical education was a different animal, with its own jargon and ways of working! We formed a strongly supportive UK group to help one another and share ideas, and on the advice of others, I joined associations including AMEE and started reading more of the specific literature (including Medical Teacher and the Guides). Attending the stimulating conferences around the world was so helpful, and provided a welcoming induction into the international medical education community which is so generous to newcomers.
I’ve been involved in a number of faculty development activities at AMEE, specifically running Educational Leadership courses and a range of workshops and, more recently, led the task and finish group that has developed the Specialist Certificate in Medical Education. For me, AMEE is always a place where I feel at home, working (and socialising in lovely cities!) with like-minded colleagues, all wanting to provide the best education they can, to do the best for their students, faculty and, of course, ultimately for the patients and communities they serve. AMEE also provides a unique opportunity to network, make connections and develop (often long-standing) relationships with colleagues and friends. Through these connections, I have been fortunate to travel extensively all around the world and work with some great people. Over the years I have been so privileged to learn from others around the world, and as a Fellow I hope to echo that generosity and give something back to the medical education community by supporting and mentoring others on their own professional and personal journeys, and welcoming them to our wonderful community of educators.