Summary: Professor Harden discusses, among other things, the suitcase with the built in heater. Description: Heidi Chumley has taken up post as Dean at the American University of the Caribbean. She was previously Vice Chancellor of Educational Resources and Inter-professional Education at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Heidi has published extensively, including in 2008 an article on the OSCE. I have just returned this week from a meeting of the American University of the Caribbean Board of Trustees where I had the pleasure of meeting with her. Dick Kitch from Detroit, Michigan, who is also on the Board, helps to keep me up to date with press cuttings from his legal firm’s press cutting service. He passed to me an article from Kaiser Health News, April 2, 2013, which starts “Michael Ellison has a tough assignment. He is the associate dean of admissions choosing the first class of a brand new medical school, the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.” From over 1,600 applicants they will interview 400 for 60 places. The school has a very specific mission: Producing new doctors who want to go into primary care practise.

This week sees the start of our third ESME Online 12-week course with 129 participants. I am putting the finishing touches to my first interactive webinar which will be presented at two different times on Thursday. Participants will be divided into seven groups for their online activities. We have for the first time two groups being conducted in Spanish in collaboration with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. A separate 35 students will be participating in the online course on Leadership which is being led by Stewert Mennin. We have been encouraged by the excellent feedback from the two courses last year.

I received this week a copy of the Arabic translation of the third edition of A Practical Guide for Medical Teachers, which I edited with John Dent. We already have translations in other languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean. It is interesting the Arabic version appears to be a much larger book.

Important progress has been made with the ASPIRE-to-Excellence initiative with the deadline for the first round of applications having closed on March 31 and for pilot schools on April 30. The submissions received will now be considered in the first instance by the panels in each of the three areas with recommendations for recognition of excellence approved by the ASPIRE Board. Awards will be presented at the AMEE meeting in Prague in August 2013. Jim Rourke has written an excellent summary describing the social responsibility of a medical school, which was published as a Back Page Feature in Academic Medicine, Vol. 88, No. 3, p 430. This very nicely complements the description of social responsibility, one of the three ASPIRE topics, as set out in the ASPIRE criteria (www.aspire-to-excellence.org). I was interested to note that the University of Edinburgh is currently advertising for a Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability.

I often wonder what happens to rejected papers from Medical Teacher. Some I know get published in other journals and others we are now publishing online at MedEdPublish. Alessandro Diana reported in ResearchGate that five of nine university-based physicians he asked indicated that they had one to three rejected papers still waiting in their personal files. In the correspondence that followed it was suggested that highly-productive scholars continue to revise and resubmit their work until it becomes good enough for publication.

A priority this week is to review the 2,450 submitted abstracts for AMEE 2013 in Prague. We now have the reports back from referees. It is an interesting, but challenging task to look at the final selection and to arrange them into themed sessions that tell an interesting story.

There is a fascinating interview with Clayton Christensen in the April 2013 issue of Wired. He gives some of the background to his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma where he describes why leading and smart companies fail because they do everything right. They cater to high profit margin customers and ignore the lower end of the market where disruptive innovations emerge. He suggests in the interview that while universities don’t feel that their world is going to collapse, within five years they could be in real trouble because of new developments, including the availability of online learning. He mentions, for example, that Harvard Business School no longer teaches accounting, “…because there’s a guy out of BYU whose online accounting course is so good. He is extraordinary and our account faculty, on average, is average.” This reminds me of my conversation in Boston with students from a number of schools in the USA. They reported that in each school there was on average three outstanding lecturers. Why, they asked, could they not have the benefit of listening to the best lecturers from all of the schools?

Evaluation of doctors in practice is always a contentious topic. Which, the UK consumer magazine, reported in its April 2013 issue a study where individuals posing as patients were sent undercover into 30 general practices. The undercover patients included a woman at possible risk of a stroke because of her medication; a man wanting sleeping pills to cope with undiagnosed depression; and a woman with symptoms that could point to an underlying heart problem. Hidden video and audio recordings were analysed by an expert panel and significant differences were found in the quality of the visits. Of the 30 offices visited, 12 were deemed as “poor”, 14 were “good”, and 4 were “satisfactory”.

I am always interested to see in ResearchGate, often in journals I would normally be looking at, citations made to papers I have published. It is, at the same time, disappointing to find articles where work is not recognized. An article “Spicing up Medical Education”, described in detail the SPICES model as I first published in 1984, but without a reference to my paper.

In the Dundee Centre for Culture and Arts we now have screened regularly live productions from the National Theatre in London. These have proved very popular. This seems to be a win-win situation with the audience in Dundee being provided with an experience they would not otherwise have and the performers at a distance receiving a welcomed additional income. We have been talking about satellite meetings run alongside the AMEE annual conference with live relay of the main plenary and symposia sessions. A couple of years ago, as a pilot, we did make available to individuals access to the major meeting sessions live online. The plan is to repeat this in Prague and at the same time to look at the possibility of a satellite conference in Sudan. Much of the benefit of an AMEE conference is the networking, but if you cannot be there in person the next best thing would be to engage with the meeting online.

In talking with medical teachers I sometimes get the impression that they feel that as an individual they can have little effect on the curriculum. I liked the quote reproduced in Management Today by Anita Roddick, “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.”

Finally, I promise, the last reference to bed bugs in a blog. I couldn’t resist reporting, however, while traveling the United States last week I found an advertisement in the American Airlines magazine for “The World’s First Suitcase That Kills Bed Bugs!” The suitcase has a built in heating system that when plugged in to the electrical socket heats the suitcase and contents to a temperature that kills bedbugs. According to the advertisement, apparently this is “Recommended for Safer Travel by Expert & Leading Bed Bug Entomologist Richard Cooper”.