Summary: Having recently returned from the 4th International Congress of Simulation in Medical Education in Cancun, Mexico, Professor Harden muses on what makes an Excellent Medical Teacher and on the importance of collaboration. Description: Much work went into the organisation by Ricardo Leόn Bόrquez and others of the 20th Panamerican Conference on Medical Education which was held together with the 4th International Congress of Simulation in Medical Education in Cancun, Mexico from 4-18th June. It was interesting having a South American perspective on medical education as wells as hearing the views of over 30 international contributors to the programme. There was an extensive exhibit of simulators which now offer a huge range of function.

In one presentation I developed the theme of ‘What is an Excellent Medical Teacher’ based on the formula I published in Essential Skills for a Medical Teacher. This was built around the three circle model of learning outcomes with in the inner circle the required technical competencies, in the middle circle how the teacher approaches their work and in the outer circle their professionalism as a teacher. Jordi Pales gave an interesting presentation on excellence in medical education from a Spanish perspective and Genevieve Moineau a Canadian perspective. John Norcini talked about assessment of excellence in a medical teacher and proposed that an approach could be developed around the model I presented. Adi Haramati suggested that this might be explored further at a symposium at AMEE 2017 in Helsinki.

In another presentation I argued for greater attention to be paid in the medical curriculum to cultural competency, not just in terms of an outward looking approach relating to patients ethnicity, religions, beliefs, problems and behaviours, but also an inward looking approach with regard to different cultures within medicine and other healthcare professions, and in medicine the different cultures associated with the bio medical and bio social model. I used, as I did in a talk at IMEC in Kuala Lumpur earlier in the year, the example of the cultural OSCE for paediatric residents developed by Elizabeth Kachur in New York. The 14 stations not only highlight different examples of cultural competence in practice, but also how it can be assessed. This is one of the case studies in the book I wrote with Madalena Patricio and Pat Lilley – The Definitive Guide to the OSCE.

Among the interesting presentations was one by John Prescott from the AAMC on developments in education in North America including a move to a smoother transition between the different phases. It was agreed, however, that more fundamental changes to education are required, perhaps with a different model for medical training. This will be a theme for a session at AMEE 2017 in Helsinki.

Although I was not able to participate, I understand from Deborah Murdoch-Eaton that the South African Association for Health Education (SAAHE) annual conference also held this month was a success with interesting contributions. The award for the Best Publication for 2016 was presented to Susan van Schalkwyk – Understanding rural clinical learning spaces: being and becoming a doctor, published in Medical Teacher (2015, 37:589-594).

There is in the UK and I think elsewhere, a need for more doctors to choose a career in emergency medicine. There is now good evidence that time spent in emergency medicine departments as students makes it more likely that doctors will select this as a career choice. We need to reflect this in curriculum planning.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) continue to feature prominently in the education literature. In his blog of 4th May, Stephen Downes reports that Australia has set a 2025 target of 110 million MOOCs students. This is said to represent about 10% of the potential market. Apparently international education is already Australia’s third largest export industry earning nearly 19 billion Australian dollars in 2015, beaten only by coal and iron. Not a MOOC but online, the AMEE Essential Skills in Medical Education online courses have continued to gain momentum with almost 1,000 students already having completed the basic ESME course. Two new courses have been added for 2016/17. The ESME Leadership in Medical Education led by Stewart Mennin and Glenda Eoyang and an Essential Skills in Medical Education Assessment course run by Kathy Boursicot building on the success of the face-to-face ESMEA course. The basic ESME course is also increasingly being recognised for credits towards Masters in Medical Education programmes. It is encouraging to find course participants becoming interested in medical education while working on the ESME course and wanting to pursue their interest further. It has been suggested that we should turn the ESME course into a MOOC but I think this would not be appropriate at this point in time.

I was pleased to see launched this week, after much preparation and planning, AMEE’s new e-Journal, AMEE MedEdPublish ( This presents I think a forward looking approach to publishing with post publication review by readers and a panel of reviewers. The journal is open access. A range of papers have already been published and these are attracting attention. From an international audience the top ten countries connecting to date are the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Singapore, Pakistan, India, Germany and The Netherlands. It will be interesting to see how the comments and rating of papers is received by both authors and readers.

In an earlier blog I mentioned a video clip highlighted by Maria Rosa Fenoll-Brunet about Barcelona. This included the Human Tower which features traditionally in festivals in Catalonia. The highest is reported as a height spanning ten people from the ground up. As Maria Rosa has pointed out the Human Tower is an example of human excellence in teamwork where people from different race, age and gender work together with strength, balance, courage and common sense. Those attending AMEE 2016 in Barcelona will have an opportunity in the opening reception to see a human tower being built. I look forward to this.