Summary: In this latest blog, Professor Harden talks of his recent trip to a medical school in Greenville, USA, posters and e-posters for AMEE 2014, his own Japanese garden and NEJM’s new adaptive technology to deliver personalised learning. Description: I returned last week from a trip as visiting Professor to the School of Medicine, Greenville, South Carolina.  On the website for the school, Dean Jerry Youkey suggests that it is a new kind of medical school where tomorrow’s doctors train alongside today’s physicians and all members of the interdisciplinary healthcare team from day one and where hands-on, real-world experience is a way of life for the students.  Students are immersed in the healthcare delivery system from their first week of school.  Their experience, as I saw also when I visited Hofstra Medical School in New York, includes an attachment as a member of a first responder team in an ambulance.

I was impressed that education is taken very seriously by the staff at the School of Medicine in Greenville.  My two days there coincided with the first two days of a staff development annual two week period for all staff.  At one informal session I attended staff were invited to comment on an experience they had with students which had gone very well and experiences where problems had arisen.  This was an impressive and thought provoking session.  Six staff from the School of Medicine are currently working through our Essential Skills in Medical Education online programme.
I was interested to see the electronic resources that had been made available free to all students at Greenville.  I thought this list might be of more general interest and I am sure that the school would not object if I shared it.  It includes:

Access Medicine –
AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors –
Clinical Key –
Diagnostic Decision Support –
EBSCO Research Databases –
Exam Master –
Health e Galaxy –
MD Consult –
OVID – –
PubMed –
R2 Digital Library –
RefWorks –
TDnet –
UpToDate –

Clinical Key alone has 900 books, 500 journals, thousands of images, and over 2500 videos.  An important element of the education programme is to show students how to locate, identify and evaluate information.  This reminded me of Chuck Friedman’s talk at AMEE and at ASME on practising medicine in an era of ubiquitous information.

Greenville itself is in my experience one of the most beautiful cities and airports and the quality of life for students and staff is certainly high.  It is one of the few airports I have been to where, while waiting for a plane, you can sit outside in a beautiful garden with a pond and fountains.  When I was there the weather was just ideal for this.  

In addition to other presentations and workshops I was invited to make an evening presentation in the annual Luminaries of Medicine address on the theme ‘Planning for the Future: A Revolution in Medical Education’.  

Blog76-pic.JPGHere is the photograph of myself at Greenville with Bob Best and Mo Khalil who are driving the curriculum.  Bob was responsible for putting together my programme and for my invitation.  You can see in the background of the photograph the arrangements of chairs which can used for either formal presentations or for team-based learning.  It is one of the most adaptable set ups and practical arrangements I have seen.

In the first formal session during my visit, Lynn Crespo gave a useful introduction to the school’s approach, describing the model as one of ‘a clinical university’, where there is an integrated healthcare delivery system with a university.

On return from Greenville, among other things, I have been working on some of the final arrangements for AMEE 2014 in Milan.  We have more than 800 posters and these are being arranged into groups that tell a story.  Also about 200 have been selected for e-Poster presentation.  This was very well received last year and we are repeating the experience again this year, working with Innovative Technology and Bassam Al-Hemsi in Riyadh to deliver what I think is one of the few truly interactive e-Poster sessions.  Too often all one finds at meetings billed as e-Posters is a digital representation of a PowerPoint screen.  With the system we have adopted the presenter can in response to questions bring up additional information in the form of videos, interviews and more details, and anyone browsing later can view aspects of the poster in more depth.

We will have, as always, a strong student representation at the meeting.  We had a record number of 560 applicants from students who wished to join the 35 strong student international support group and IFMSA and EMSA are making the final selection – not an easy task.

I have just left for a busy two weeks in North America starting off as Tosteson Visiting Professor at Harvard and from there moving to the International Association of Medical Science Educators meeting in Nashville where we are running an ESME course.  From there it is on to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico for the IV Congress of International Medical Education.  In all I have 13 presentations or workshops.  More about the highlights and experiences in my next blog. 

Just before leaving I presented the fifth webinar on Teaching and Learning Methods in our ongoing ESME online course with Trevor Gibbs, John Dent and Pat Lilley as facilitators.  The response as for our previous online courses has been very positive.  I suggested that each teacher must select from a toolkit those methods most appropriate for their own context and teaching respProf-Garden.jpgonsibilities.  I reminded the participants of my Japanese garden story in which I describe how I made a Japanese courtyard garden in Dundee, not from books illustrating beautiful Japanese gardens, but rather from a simpler book highlighting the principles of constructing a Japanese garden.  In this way I was able to make a garden to suit my own needs in Dundee.  I showed a colourful small part of the garden with a tea basin to remind them of the story, as in the photograph.

I happened to come across yesterday a cartoon I saw in the June 2007 of Phi Delta Kappan.  It was of a dentist treating a patient who was a teacher and the caption read “I have a waiting room filled with people who have different needs and don’t want to be here.  You’re a teacher.  You wouldn’t know how stressful that is.”  The point that was being made in the journal was that teaching can be stressful and that each student is different.  I have been thinking a lot recently about adaptive learning and the challenge to deliver personalised learning for each student.  It was in line with this I had been pleased to have my attention drawn by Hill Jason to the New England Journal of Medicine announcement that they were adopting adaptive technology as a service to readers to deliver personalised learning.

I’m looking forward to my adventures in USA and Mexico – more of this in the next instalment of my blog.