Summary: Hosted by the Faculty of Medicine, University of Sveged, Hungary, the University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Victor Babes, Timisoara, Romania together with the Hungarian Association of Medical Education and Health Sciences, this conference focussed on student-centred medical education. Description: After a two hour drive from Sveged through the great central plains of Romania and Hungary this three day event began on a sunny spring morning in the modern Aula Magna at Victor Babes, Timisoara. In an institution where change in medical education is difficult to introduce it was possible to use the opening plenary to talk about the SPICES approach to curriculum reform. The six elements of the SPICES model, student-centred learning, problem-based learning, integrated or inter-professional teaching, community–based education, elective studies, and a systematic or planned approach, are now widely shared and accepted (Harden, Sowden, Dunn, 1984) and together provide a strategy for developing an innovative curriculum. Our recent pilot of the new online ESME-Student course has found that undergraduate students could use this approach to comment to what extent their own medical schools had implemented these strategies as they move away from a traditional or teacher-centred curriculum. The day continued with Aviad Haramati (Washington DC) and David Taylor (Liverpool) who talked about the role of faculty and peer learning in student-centred medical education. Poster sessions were adjudicated by a panel of overseas visitors led by Richard Marz (Vienna). Workshops were provided by Christoph Stosch (Cologne) on the student as teacher and Bianca Schuh (Vienna) on methods of rating professional behaviour. Presentations on clinical skills and simulators were led by Constantin Sora (Vienna), Nogah Hararati (NY) and Florin Cobzariu (Timosuara).

Day two of the programme was held in the prestigious buildings of the acclaimed University of Sveged founded in 1581. Approximately 80 participants were welcomed by Deans Ferenc Bari (Sveged) and Marious Raica (Timisoara) together with Mihaly Bodosi, the President of the Hungarian Association for Medical Education and Health Sciences. In the plenary session on the role of universities in promoting skills-based education it was possible to emphasise the extended role the clinical skills centre can provide for students to experience integrated, problem–based and team-based learning. A presentation about the state of the art simulation centre at Cluj-Napoca was made by Gheorghe Ticolea and Claudia Gherman. Six round-table discussions focussed on communication skills, simulation, slice anatomy and assessment. The day finished with an outstanding concert of classical and local music by talented undergraduates. The inclusion of such extracurricular activities in the medical school programme is perhaps novel to most of us, so it was interesting that the opening plenary the next day opened a discussion on the role of student engagement in voluntary activities and international collaborations to promote professionalism in medical education. Examples, including the use of timetabled sports activities and the performing arts, were described by the faculty. Seven speakers contributed to the plenary on students and research which was followed by round-table discussions involving eight local presenters on curriculum development.

It was a pleasure to join the platform of overseas guests at this conference and it was possible to indicate the helpful resources which AMEE can provide . However, the faculty’s underlying problems of insufficient opportunities to attend medical education events and the difficulty in making curriculum changes at an institutional level are more difficult to resolve. The enthusiasm and innovative ideas of those present have been evident in the past, and although often not able to attend international meetings, we can look forward to sharing with them in the AMEE live online transmission from the annual conference in Glasgow in September.

1. Harden RM, Sowden S, Dunn WR. Some educational strategies in curriculum development: the SPICES model. Med Educ 1984; 18: 284-297.