Summary: AMEE International Relations Officer John Dent discusses the progress of the new pilot ESME Student Online course. Description: The second module of the new ESME-Student course started this week with webinars led this time by group tutors Richard Hays (Tasmania) and John Dent (Dundee). The tutor for the third student group, Cate Kennedy also took part. This new course, currently running as a pilot version, was launched at the beginning of the year by Prof Ronald Harden with more than 70 participants from 17 countries.

The requirement for students to be involved in teaching has been recognised by accrediting authorities around the world such as the GMC in Tomorrow’s Doctors (2009). Student involvement with teaching has been evidenced at recent AMEE conferences by the number of papers submitted on this subject. One of the guidelines for the achievement of the auspicious AMEE / ASPIRE-to-Excellence Award is for medical schools to be able to demonstrate student engagement in the curriculum. The ESME-Student course seeks to respond to this need for students to have experience in medical education and to affirm and motivate them in their expressed interest in the teaching role of a doctor. The course has been adapted to meet student needs from the successful ESME-online course with grass-roots input from an Advisory Group of students.

Notification of the new course to Deans of medical school and key international representatives received a response of over 150 applicants for 36 countries. This was far more than we expected for a pilot course and as this was being fully sponsored by AMEE we were only able to accept just over 70 of these representing 17 countries. So far the extent of student engagement in the discussion groups and in the online chat room during the webinar has been truly amazing. Students have described their recent experiences in a variety of educational roles including peer-assisted learning and the creation of e-learning resources. They have commented on their medical school’s curriculum and teaching practices and have shared their personal aspirations for future roles in medical education. We very much look forward to working with them over the next few weeks to help them acquire new teaching skills, confirm their current interest, and to see their involvement with medical education lead in fruitful directions in the future.

After assessing the participants’ feedback on the course we will be able to make any necessary modifications and provide an opportunity for others to enrol in ESME-Student later in the year. If the initial degree of interest is continued the tutors are going to be in for a busy time facilitating the discussion groups and commenting on the assignments submitted over the next few months. Is it worth it? The answer surely has to be, “yes”. By engaging in this way with such motivated students, enthusiastic for medical education at an early stage in their medical careers, we really are contributing to the professional development of future medical educators. The sentiment quoted from the US astronaut Christa McAuliffe remains true, “I touch the future, I teach”.

JOHN DENT, UK