Summary: Professor Harden focuses on optimising collaboration in medical education in this blog after attending APMEC 2014. Description: I have just returned from the 11th Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference in Singapore where the theme was Optimising APMEC-2014-AMEE-exhibition-(1).jpgCollaboration in Medical Education: Building Bridges, Connecting Minds.  Among the plenaries were one by Cees van der Vleuten on collaboration and the progress test, one my Lambert Schuwirth on research collaboration and one by Yvonne Steinert on collaboration in faculty development.  At the 10th APMEC I had devoted my plenary slot to collaboration in medical education and I chose for my title this year ‘If collaboration in medical education is so important why does it not happen more?’  Interesting research into collaboration I found in the book ‘Collaboration: What Makes it Work: A review of research literature on factors influencing successful collaboration’ (2nd Edition) by Mattessich et al (2001).  Last year I looked at collaboration between the different stakeholders in an institution, collaboration at a national and international level, collaboration between healthcare professionals and collaboration between the different phases of education.  This year I suggested that why it does not happen more often lies in the equation C = V x S / N, where C = collaboration, V = vision, S = shared strategy and N = is a negative mind set.  To improve collaboration I proposed the need for a shared vision using the ‘collaboration ladder’ with the steps in the ladder - isolation, awareness, cooperation, coordination and integration.  To support collaboration, effective strategies are needed including improved communication as offered in outcome-based education and curriculum mapping and the creation of more meaningful learning experiences building round current initiatives internationally.  A negative mind set about collaboration also needs to be tackled.

The November 2013 issue of the magazine Association Meetings International reports the 2012 city rankings for meetings.  The top ten cities for conferences with more than 500 delegates were Barcelona, Berlin, Istanbul, Paris, London, Vienna, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Prague and Singapore.  It is interesting that AMEE has had its conference in five of these cities and is looking at the moment at the feasibility of having its 2016 conference in Istanbul.

At APMEC we ran an ESME course which was fully subscribed with 40 participants.  The group were enthusiastic and each left the courseAPMEC-2014-(1).jpg with powerful personal take-home messages.  One participant baked a special cake which we shared on the last day as in the photograph.  We had a book signing session for Essential Skills for a Medical Teacher and the Fourth Edition of A Practical Guide for Medical Teachers organised by Elsevier and this proved very popular.  There was a lot of interest in AMEE and the AMEE initiatives and we had a stand at the meeting attended by Pat Lilley and Trudie Roberts.  We sold a number of AMEE Guides and recruited some new AMEE members.  

Following APMEC I went to IMU in Kuala Lumpur where we ran a workshop on the OSCE.  It is always interesting seeing how the OSCE has developed since I first described it 40 years ago.

I am always interested in technology developments and have followed with interest the advances in 3D printers with a view to their use in education.  I see one is now advertised on the high street for under £700.  I was interested to read how dentist, Andrew Dawood, first used 3D printing to make a model of a patient’s bone structure to work out how implants would go.  He has now set up a 3D print shop in London where he hopes a collaborative community of artists, designers, engineers, technicians and enthusiasts will engage in what he sees as one of the most transforming technologies of the next few years (

I have always followed with interest Daniel Sokol’s articles in the British Medical Journal on ethics.  In a recent article (BMJ 2013; 347:f6426) he revisits the dictum in medicine ‘first do no harm.’  He describes how ‘first do no net harm’ is better but still needs to be interpreted in the context of other moral principles such as justice and respects for autonomy.  A news item about Daniel Sokol features in the 2nd January issue of Times Higher.  Apparently King’s College London has terminated his contract as an honorary senior lecturer as a result of him setting up a business offering legal advice to students who wish to challenge their exam results.  In a letter in the Times Higher he argues that there are good reasons why students who believe they have been unfairly treated turn to lawyers.  They know that by and large they will get better representation.  Following receipt of a letter from King’s giving three months’ notice he commented ‘upon reading the letter, one might have been forgiven for thinking that I had set up a brothel for students, with an endless supply of class A drugs.’

I leave for Houston, USA to participate in a medical education meeting and will report back in my next blog.