Summary: In the last blog of 2014, Professor Harden discusses the upcoming 2015 APMEC meeting in Singapore, an update on AMEE 2015 in Glasgow, ‘The International Handbook of Medical Education’ he is joint editor of and why he feels the number of citations does not necessarily reflect the quality of an article. Description: In previous blogs I have referred to reports of individuals having original thoughts while in a bath.  My own experience strongly supports this.  When the need has arisen I always seem to be able to have a creative thought when in the bath, particularly on a Sunday morning when the water is warm and I am in no hurry.  This last Sunday the challenge was to come up with some new thoughts which I might introduce in my presentation on Faculty Development at the 12th APMEC in Singapore in February.  This is the 12th APMEC and I have been greatly honoured by being invited to be a plenary speaker at all twelve meetings.  I feel a particular responsibility to be original in my presentation.  It is particularly important as the 3rd Faculty Development conference is combined with APMEC this year.  Faculty Development will be the fourth theme to add to the themes of Student Engagement, Student Assessment and Social Accountability of a school in the ASPIRE-to-Excellence recognition programme.  David Irby has agreed to chair the ASPIRE Faculty Development panel and we hope to start work on this initiative in Singapore with the aim of accepting submissions in the faculty development category along with the January 2016 applications.  With the success in medicine, ASPIRE has now been launched also in dentistry and veterinary medicine.  While applications from medical schools close on 31st January 2015, we are accepting applications from dental and veterinary schools in the first three themes for 31st March 2015.

We received back from the printers this week the provisional programme for AMEE 2015 in Glasgow in September 2015.  Not only has it a rich and varied collection of activities highlighted but the front cover in the style of Rennie Mackintosh is impressive.  The programme is now online.  I was interested to see that within one hour of it appearing online we received ten abstract submissions for short communications!  The closing date for Research papers and PhD reports is 12th January and for short communications, conference workshops, posters, e-posters and the AMEE fringe is 15th February.  Those not able to be with us in Glasgow can join AMEE 2015 Live Online.  Madalena Patricio told me that at a recent WHO meeting in Cairo, the representatives from Sudan had commented how helpful they had found the AMEE 2014 meeting relayed to them live online.

We had our final Medical Teacher Editorial Review committee meeting for 2014 this week.  We received more than 1,500 papers submitted during the year.  From January 2015 AMEE members will receive the journal online rather than in print.  There are some additional features.  We hope to encourage authors of papers to create video abstracts for their article.  This is intended as a short video that engagingly introduces readers to an article with the authors speaking on screen, intercut with visuals.  It’s not an author simply reading the written abstract aloud on camera!  We will be contacting authors in the New Year about this facility.  

Professor Roger Soames from the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee has received an unusual retiral gift – an embalming tank named in his honour.  The centre is recognised for its innovative use of the Thiel embalming method, which preserves cadavers with life-like flexibility and tissue quality.

I have felt for some time now that the number of citations relating to an article received does not necessarily reflect the quality of the article.  It is well documented that some papers are cited because they are believed to be flawed.  Paul Jump draws attention to the problem in a feature in the Times Higher Education (11 December 2014).  The solution proposed by Eric Anicich described in Perspectives on Psychological Science is that every citation of a paper should be allocated to one of six broad categories.  More precise citation categories would make citation metrix more useful, although it might be difficult to implement in practice.

I feel particularly excited about the new BEME proposed initiative ‘Best Practice in Medical Education.’  While undoubtedly the BEME work on producing systematic reviews has been of great value, we need to do more to encourage the teacher to make evidence-informed decisions in relation to their day-to-day work as a teacher.  I suspect it would be very unusual indeed to find doctors consulting a Cochrane review when they had to make a clinical decision about a patient.  Would they rather make evidence-informed decisions using a resource such as ‘Up-to-date?’  Janusz Janczukowicz from the University of Lodz BICC is playing a leading role in a pilot study to look at the value of such an approach in education and the sort of questions teachers would wish to receive answers to.  We will shortly be doing a survey of AMEE members and seeking the collaboration on the BEME International Collaborating Centres but would welcome input from anyone who has an interest in this initiative.

I am interested in how technology is applied to medical education.  Ruben Puentedura shares in his blog of 12th December a paper he presented at the 7th Annual 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong this month.  Included with other interesting ideas was a classification of the use of technology in education.  He describes transformation and enhancement.  To summarise:

a)    Redefinition – technology allows for the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable
b)    Modification – technology allows for significant task redesign

a)    Augmentation – technology acts as a direct tool substitute with fictional improvement
b)    Substitution – technology acts as a direct tool substitute with no functional change

After some unexpected delays we finally got off to the publisher the text for a book which I am joint editor, along with Professor Khalid Bin Abdulrahman and Professor Stewart Mennin – The International Handbook of Medical Education in the prestigious Routledge Handbook series.  A strong feature of the book are the case studies from around the world carefully integrated into the chapters by the chapter authors. Minna Kaila, a contributor from the University of Helsinki informed me that the books title – IHME – means in Finnish ‘a miracle.’  It certainly was not easy with almost two hundred contributors pulling the complete text together.

I leave on the 3rd January for a series of workshops in India, first in Mumbai for the Global Perspectives on Medical Education conference and later in Aurangabad for the International Convention on Challenges in Medical Education 2015.  There we are running an ESME course.  Niv Patil from Hong Kong has done much to facilitate the arrangements.

This is my last blog for 2014.  Very best wishes for the festive season.