Summary: This month Professor Harden discusses some of the highlights from the ASME meeting in Brighton and the JSME meeting in Tokyo. Description: Since my last blog I have been to the ASME meeting in Brighton and the meeting of the Japan Society for Medical Education in Tokyo.

Ara Tekian was presented in Brighton with the ASME gold medal and in an interesting presentation described some of the excitements in his life and his introduction to medical education. He ended up with some conclusions. What you do may have unexpected long term consequences. Anticipate the barriers when there are leadership changes. Believe in yourself and don’t be discouraged if people do not appear to support you.

There was an interesting paper at the meeting by Hannah Jacob. She identified the top ten diagnostic errors in paediatrics and used these as a focus for training. Some time ago I wrote with Willie Dunn an article on how to identify educational needs. One of the approaches we described was through the identification of errors in practice. I describe this and the other approaches in my new book, Essential Skills for a Medical Teacher. Another paper at the meeting by Alistair Revolta reported the use of tablet computers to record the marks and performance of candidates in an OSCE. Given my interest in the OSCE I always value the opportunity to hear about possible developments. It wasn’t’ clear from the paper, and there wasn’t an opportunity to raise in the discussion, whether the amount of time examiners spend with the tablet rather than observing the candidate is more or less than the time they would spend with a paper-based scoring system.

Patrick Mitchell the newly appointed Director of national programmes- medical education in England described some of the new education initiatives in the NHS. Despite a huge budget there does not appear to have been a discussion as to an allocation for research in medical education. At a meeting in Canada this Summer, Richard Reznick is talking about his experience with the launch of a competency-based curriculum for training surgical residents with the aim of accelerating training and meeting the needs of individual trainees. He advocates the need for a major structural shift in training. There appears to be no appetite for this in the UK certainly, among those responsible for organising training.

On route to Tokyo I watched in the plane, “Salmon fishing the Yemen”, one of the best films I have watched for some time and thoroughly to be recommended. The film was shot in Scotland and Morocco and not in the Yemen. Its popularity however has led the Yemen government to issue an announcement to potential travellers- “There is no salmon fishing in the Yemen”.

At the meeting I contributed to a workshop on writing for publication. The participants appeared to be enthusiastic to have their work published in an English speaking journal. In my Plenary presentation I looked at the future of medical education. The meeting was held at Keio University and I was impressed by the interest of the staff and the students. With the main part of the meeting in Japanese, a student translated for me. In the international session in the programme the award for the best poster was given to one on the subject of cheating, which appeared to be prevalent even in an OSCE. Aware of my interest in Japanese gardens my hosts arranged for a visit to the beautiful Sankeien Garden.

I was sad to see this week an announcement that the UK’S oldest comic “the Dandy” is to cease publication in its present print form, but will continue life online. I remember reading the comic as a child with the characters such as Desperate Dan and Corky the Cat. Apparently circulation had dropped from 2 million copies a week in it heyday to just 7,500 last year as children are increasingly turning to video games and social networking for their entertainment. I have another association with the Dandy. The artist responsible for some of the cartoons has contributed cartoons for my PowerPoint presentations. Some people have even recognised the Dandy Characters!

I was very sorry to hear this week that Joy Crosby’s house in New Zealand was burned to the ground in a fire. Fortunately she, Sarah and the five children were not harmed but they did lose all of their possessions. Joy and Sarah worked with me in Dundee previously and were regular contributors to AMEE meetings. I am sure that their built in resilience and creativity will help them to recover from this misfortune.

I leave tomorrow for AMEE 2012 in Lyon. We have had an excellent response to the meeting with about 3100 participants enrolled from 106 countries. In many ways it is an important meeting for AMEE. We will be launching at the meeting the new ASPIRE initiative with David Wilkinson and Trudy Roberts running a workshop – we have had an excellent response to the invitation for schools to serve as pilot sites and have many more than we had planned. We will also be launching the new version of MedEdWorld at the meeting, with its new features including MedEdWorld Publish. Over the year important changes have been made in the organisation of the Best Medical Education Collaboration (BEME) organisation and the new board will meet for the first time in Lyon. More details of the meeting in my next blog.