Summary: The AMEE Office move, the ASPIRE initiative and the number of public hospital doctors in the Romanian health system are discussed by Professor Harden this fortnight. Description: Over the Christmas period I saw an excellent performance of It’s a Wonderful Life at Pitlochry Festival Theatre.  A legal oversight was largely responsible for catapulting the original film it to its current status as a Christmas classic.  IN 1974 apparently, 20 years after its release, the copyright owner failed to renew its copyright.  Ignored and apparently forgotten the film quietly slid into the public domain.  Something then wonderful happened.  Television discovered it.  The stations realised that they could show it at no cost and show it they did.  Millions of viewers were introduced to the story.  The film almost forgotten became a classic through the provision of open access.

This week saw the move of the AMEE office from Taypark House to new premises at Airlie Place.  Taypark-House-Prof-Harden.jpgWe were sorry to leave Taypark House which was a former Scottish baronial mansion house dating from circa 1863 with a mature garden grounds, outstanding views across the River Tay and the hills of Fife and direct access to the University Botanic Gardens.  At some distance from the main University campus upkeep and maintenance was a problem and the University decided to sell the building which will now be restored as a boutique hotel.  The move to Airlie Place on the main University campus does, however, have advantages for AMEE and is more able to cater for the needs of the AMEE staff and projects.  We would be delighted to see you in the AMEE office if you are ever in the locality.

‘Evidence is vital but don’t reject intuition’, advocates Felipe Fernández-Armesto, writing in Times Higher Education (16 January 2014).  He suggests that in his experience ‘decisions are disproportionate to data.  When I do know all the sources relevant to a particular problem, I can no more propose a definitive solution than I can on the basis of one fragment of information, or, in some cases, an insight unsupportive except by gut conviction.’  

Romanian health system is in crisis as doctors leave for better working life was the title of a news item in the BMJ (1 February 2014).  Apparently the number of public hospital doctors has fallen from about 20,000 in 2011 to 14,500 in 2013.  The average doctor earns about £200 per month.  I remember one participant from Romania at an AMEE conference telling me how he had had to save three months’ salary to allow him to attend the conference.  This puts a huge responsibility on us all to ensure that we meet conference participants’ needs, particularly those who have made a sacrifice to attend.

I led the first of the Spring-term MedEdWorld webinars on Tuesday 18th February on the topic of Recognising Excellence in Medical Education and the ASPIRE initiative.  The participants in the webinar were almost unanimous in their agreement that teaching was less valued in an institution compared to research and that this should be reversed.  Reasons for the emphasis on research were that education was seen as less prestigious, less funding was available and research was seen as a more important mission compared to teaching.  Towards the end of the webinar participants were asked in which area, in addition to the three areas already established, should recognition of excellence be introduced.  The options given were: faculty development; professionalism; patient involvement in the education process; use of new learning technologies including simulation and e-learning; Innovation in curriculum design, recognising the ubiquitous nature of information; Inter-professional education.  Much to my surprise, in both the morning and afternoon sessions about two thirds of respondents voted for ‘innovation in curriculum design, recognising the ubiquitous nature of information’ (a theme suggested by Chuck Friedman).  Next came ‘professionalism’ and ‘new learning technologies’ and last ‘faculty development’ and ‘inter-professional education.’  Not what I had expected!   A recording of the session is available on MedEdWorld.  I would be interested to hear any thoughts or suggestions relating to an additional ASPIRE topic.