Summary: In the latest issue of Harden’s Blog, Professor Harden asks if AMEE should be politically involved with policy decisions that have an impact on medical education. Description: From time to time we are asked in AMEE to provide support for a point of view or issue in medical education. The most recent request was for an AMEE statement that supported promotion within a medical school on the basis of teaching and scholarship in education. From time to time there has been discussion as to whether AMEE should be more politically involved in policy decisions that are relevant to and have an impact on medical education for example, at the European Union committees in Brussels on issues such as outcome-based education and specified hours of study and junior doctor training working hours. Madalena Patricio has suggested that there is a need for a series of authoritative papers on current issues in education where there is broad agreement. The question that arises however, is whether on an issue there is agreement of AMEE members who come from a wide range of backgrounds and responsibilities. Certainly, this could be a problem if the theme of the topic was research in the medical curriculum, problem-based learning, a national examination or perhaps even selection for admission to medical studies. I do think however there could be consensus in some important areas such as:

•    Recognition of scholarship in education for purposes of promotion and rewards;
•    Careers in medical education;
•    Curriculum blueprinting and mapping;
•    Faculty/staff development;
•    Required training for medical teachers in teaching;
•    Evaluation of teaching.

Are there other topics that perhaps should have a higher priority or should appear on a list?

I always find much that interests me in Pat Thomson’s blog ‘Patter’ and I have referred to it in earlier blogs. In her blog of 2 August 2015, she addresses the writing of the introduction to an article - what should go into an introduction and how much literature should be included rather than later in the paper. She suggests that there are two things to consider when thinking about literature in the introduction. The first is that the introduction must spell out the purpose and process of the paper. What problem or issue is the paper addressing? The problem needs to be put into context, delineated and justified. The writer needs to also say what they are doing in the paper and the key steps they have taken. The second key feature she suggests for the article introduction is that it must get the reader’s attention. It must quickly convince the reader that they should give up some of their time to read about the work. This means that it should not be too long, it should be readable and that the opening sentence and paragraph should be lively and interesting.

I have felt for some time that we need to look at the overall length of the medical training programme. Does it really require and can we justify 13 years to train a doctor. The duration of training has not featured on the agenda in medical education except for attempts to increase and not reduce it. I am pleased to see however that this is changing and I noted with interest an article currently in Academic Medicine online by Marianne Greene and co-workers from Chicago in which they look at the effect of reducing the total time for the MD degree by truncating the pre-medical phase. They compared an accelerated with a standard duration programme. The academic performances of medical students of the two programmes were equivalent. The authors propose that the use of such accelerated programmes might play a role in ameliorating the length and cost of medical education.

This week has been a busy week with final preparation for AMEE 2015 in Glasgow. More than 3,300 participants have registered to date. There also has been continuing interest in AMEE live online and groups, facilitated by John Dent, will be joining the Conference from Sudan, India, Poland, Saudi Arabia and perhaps other countries. Individuals have also signed up to participate from around the world.