Summary: This fortnight Professor Harden discusses bed bugs and travelling and if the contributions of journal reviewers’ meet the requirements for authorship as recommended by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Description: Bed bugs as a potential danger to travellers was the unlikely topic at a dinner with a group of colleagues during the AAMC meeting in San Francisco in November.  One colleague described how when she was travelling, on arriving at any bedroom she turned the mattress over to look for the signs of bed bugs and kept her cases in the bath so that any bed bugs in the room could not affect her clothes.  This appeared to me to be an overreaction until I read the article in the British Medical Journal, 26 January on Bed bug infestation.  Given the resurgence of bed bugs, it is suggested ‘when sleeping in a hotel, even an upmarket establishment, lift mattresses to look for bed bugs or black spots.  Do not leave luggage in dark places, near furniture, or close to your bed.  Before going to bed, close suitcases and put them in the bathroom – in the bathtub or shower stall.’  Will I change my own behaviour when travelling?  Probably not!

University finances continue to be a matter of concern.  I was interested to see that the University World News Global Edition reported on 24 February that Stanford University has set a new record for college fundraising, becoming the first institution to collect more than $1 billion in a single year.

After a successful 10th Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference in Singapore in January, the 11th Conference is now planned for 15-19 January 2014.  The theme of my plenary at the 2013 meeting was the need for greater collaboration in medical education among all stakeholders and across the different phases both locally and internationally.  Collaboration is to be the theme of next year’s meeting and I have been asked again to explore in a plenary the concept in more depth.  I have now had the honour of being invited as keynote speaker in all eleven APMECs and it is interesting to look back and see how both the subjects and the style of my presentations have changed over time.

Nick Black, Professor of Health Services Research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, writing in the British Medical Journal, 23 February 2013, suggests that Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) may transform healthcare.  He used as an example a hip problem.  The patient may be asked ‘during the past four weeks have you been able to climb a flight of stairs?’ – ‘Yes, easily/With little difficulty/With moderate difficulty/With extreme difficulty/No, impossible.’  In England all patients undergoing a hip replacement are invited to complete a questionnaire before surgery and within six months following surgery.  Is there any place for a similar approach in medical education?  One could argue that students’ satisfaction indices as they exist today are rather different.

Some reviewers, in my experience with Medical Teacher, contribute significantly to the article that is finally produced.  I have seen as much as five typed pages of helpful suggestions.  I was interested to note the suggestion in the BMJ (19 January 2013) by Erren et al, that some reviewers should be credited as authors.  Greater transparency, it suggested, demands that reviewers receive due credit and shoulder due responsibility for their work.  It is argued that reviewers’ contributions may meet the requirements for authorship as recommended by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

I was pleased to receive an invitation to visit Boston in June next year as the Daniel C Tosteson Visiting Professor in Medical Education at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School.  I will be interested to pay a return visit to Harvard and see developments in medical education there.

Last week was a busy week in Dundee with a meeting of the new BEME Board comprising representatives from the BEME International Collaborating Centres in Maastricht, St Andrews, Queensland, Michigan and Montreal, with in addition Antonio Carneiro and Barry Issenberg, Marilyn Hammick as BEME consultant and Dale Dauphinee as past chairman of BEME Council, plus representation from AMEE.  A new BEME systematic review Editorial Board is being established and some interesting work is in process in specifying what is a BEME systematic review.  What should be a useful symposium has been organised for AMEE 2013 in Prague on how evidence should influence teaching in practice.

This blog was written earlier than usual as I leave on Monday 4th March for a visit to Australia and Malaysia.  Perth is a leading contender for the Ottawa 2016 conference and we will be visiting the conference centre and meeting a possible local organising committee.  In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia I will be participating in the Academic Council of the International Medical University and also taking part in the International Medical Education Conference (IMEC 2013).  IMU, I believe, is one of the most undervalued and under reported ‘experiments’ in medical education.  The students complete the first two to two and a half years of their training in Malaysia and then complete their training in one of more than 20 partner schools as far afield as the USA, UK and Australia, receiving qualifications and a degree of the partner school.  This is evidence to support the notion that students can transfer after the first part of their training to another school (a possibility promoted in the Bologna process) and succeed very well as a result.  It also tells us much about the concept of a common core curriculum for the early years of medical training.  In addition to the plenary presentation at the IMEC meeting, I am running a workshop on Scholarship of teaching and learning.  While I have talked on the subject previously, this is the first workshop I have run on the topic and it has been an interesting challenge.