Summary: In his latest blog Professor Harden discusses APMEC and nurturing values, Medical education and the new President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association, Publishing in Mexico, Learning a mile deep and an inch wide, and the Ottawa Conference 2020. Description: APMEC and nurturing values
The Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference (APMEC) is an important annual conference in medical education. The 2020 theme was Nurturing Values for Effective Practice. The theme for my keynote presentation was What we choose to do is a measure of what we value. This was my 16th keynote presentation at an APMEC. I argued:

  1. Values are important as these motivate, define and colour all of a doctor’s activities, leading to decisions and action
  2. It is essential that these are nurtured in the education programme. I used the metaphor of chia pets to illustrate the need for nurturing
  3. The teacher can nurture values in each of their eight roles, as described in The Eight Roles of the Medical Teacher
  4. That we do something about values is important as what we choose to do is a measure of what we value
  5. Even the smallest change can make a difference as reflected in the much quoted assertion that the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas. This concept was described by Laurenz, a professor of meteorology at MIT originally when, in a computer model to simulate weather patterns, he found the rounding of a variable from 0.506127 to 0.506 vastly transformed the weather in the simulation. The idea that small changes can make a difference was picked up by Jason Frank and Eric Holmboe on Twitter. In a coloured card vote at the end of my presentation more than 98% of the participants felt that definitely more should be done in their institution to nurture values. Agreed was a range of opinions as to where particular attention should be paid in nurturing values, including specification of values as a learning outcome, creating an appropriate education environment, assessing values, including values in the selection of students for admission, and role-modelling values.

We had another successful ESME course at APMEC and also for the first time a clinical teaching ESME course led by Subha Ramani. We were kept busy at the AMEE exhibit and it was great to have an opportunity to meet up again with old friends and colleagues, and to meet new ones.

Medical education and the new President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association
At APMEC I met with Indika Karunathilake, who previously had completed his PhD in the Centre for Medical Education in Dundee. Following his return to Sri Lanka he has been very active in medical education. I was pleased to learn that he has been inducted as the 126th President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association during a ceremony in Colombo. At 133 years, it is one of the oldest medical associations in commonwealth countries. Indika is the first person to be appointed whose background is medical education.

Publishing in Mexico
Rachel Maund, Director of UK-based Marketability Ltd, argued in The Scholarly Kitchen ( that Mexican publishers face significant challenges but are uniquely equipped to meet them. She argues that Latin America is way ahead of anywhere else when it comes to publishing open-access for both journals and books, with academics in the region committed to open-access. APCs are not a feature of the Latin America OA model. It is not clear, however, how the publishing is funded. She described the increasing interest in books in Mexico. Between 1990 and 2000, Mexico’s literacy rates for 10-15 year olds went from around 12% to over 90%, creating a new generation of wealthier, literate, and digital-savvy readers. This was in part attributed to the fact that the government gave free books to schools.

Learning a mile deep and an inch wide
In Designed to Learn by Lindsay Portnoy, a cognitive scientist, published by ASCD she argues “We’re witnessing a shift in curriculum spurred on by the need for students to synthesize important concepts; learning that was once a mile wide and an inch deep is giving way to learning that is a mile deep and an inch wide”. A concept worth exploring further!

Portnoy, L. 2020. Designed to Learn. ASCD, Virginia USA.

Ottawa Conference 2020
Following APMEC I went to Kuala Lumpur with Pat Lilley and met with Vishna Devi Nadarajah to finalise the arrangements for the Ottawa Conference on Assessment of Clinical Competence to be held there at the end of February. Malaysia is one of my favourite destinations and I think this will be my 109th visit. We have an excellent programme and speakers highlighting the important developments in assessment since the last Ottawa Conference two years ago. These changes are reflected in what I have described in The Eight Roles of the Medical Teacher as a school’s assessment PROFILE with – Programmatic Assessment, Authentic Assessment, Outcome-based Assessment, Assessment-for-Learning, Interprofessional Assessment, Student Engagement with Assessment, and Evaluation of Assessment.