Summary: The AAMC annual meeting is the focus of this month’s blog as Professor Harden reflects on a successful meeting. Description: I have just returned from the AAMC meeting in San Francisco.  Fortunately the disruption with air traffic because of storms on the east coast did not affect the west coast and my journey was uneventful.  A major topic at the meeting was the American economy and the election of President.  There was a powerful plenary presentation by Mark Laret who is Chair of the AAMC Board of Directors.  The challenge he set was to do better, to do more, but with less resources.  We need, he argued, to become a hotbed for radical new thinking about how we can achieve our purpose in medical education.  He hoped that we had the courage to respond to the challenge.  We needed, he argued to think differently about academic medicine.  

Another plenary was by Sal Khan from the Khan Academy which has been widely identified with the move to the flipped classroom.  He gave an impressive personal account of the development of the short video clips which he had produced and which were now widely used on the internet with 60 million users to date and 6 million unique users each month.  The aim was ‘free world-class education for anyone anywhere.’  He provided some powerful anecdotes of how students had improved using the resources.  The reason for the success was not clear.  Was it that it was free?  Was it attributed to his charisma in a presentation?  Was it the content and how it was presented in short blocks each related to a defined overall structure?  Probably a combination of all three.  We had explored inviting Sal Khan to present at an AMEE meeting but found it difficult to justify his fee of $75,000 for a one hour presentation plus expenses.  

At the meeting I met David Sklar who has taken over from Steve Kanter as editor of Academic Medicine.  He is from the School of Medicine at the University of New Mexico.

The AMEE stand in the exhibition aroused a lot of interest in AMEE and we had redesigned the display to make it more attractive and highlight AAMCStand.jpgthe range of AMEE activities as shown in the photograph.  It was also a chance to meet particularly with some USA colleagues.  Ara Tekian discussed the work he is doing creating a database of PhD in medical education opportunities following his work on Masters Courses.  The database for the latter is now on MedEdWorld.  There has been a significant increase in the number of Masters Courses internationally since he published his review in January in Medical Teacher.  I was surprised that Ara knew so much about my recent movements until he told me he followed my activities on this blog!

One session at the meeting discussed curriculum mapping and I gave a short paper on the position in the UK and Europe.  I was pleased to see the subject of curriculum mapping on the agenda as I think this has been much neglected.  It is important if we are to see the full potential of developments in medical education, such as outcome-based education, inter-professional teaching, distributed learning etc.  Much had been achieved since Tim Willett’s review of curriculum mapping published in Medical Education in 2008.  It was disappointing, however, that despite significant progress in the area, of the 2300 abstracts submitted for AMEE 2012 in Lyon, only three were on the topic of curriculum mapping and these were from Canada, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

The Research in Medical Education (RIME) papers were mainly on the last two days of the meeting with the wrap up on the Wednesday.  I reported on the interesting conclusions drawn by Brian Hodges at the wrap up last year.  On this occasion the discussion was mainly about the progress of the RIME sessions with a debate as to whether a flipped classroom model should be adopted in future years and more time during the sessions devoted to discussion, the assumption being that participants would read the papers presented before attending the meeting.  The RIME invited address asked the question ‘What business are we in?’ and was given by David Asch from the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania.  He suggested that companies fail because they define themselves in what they produce, rather than what consumers want.  The first part of the talk argued that the aim should be to improve health with more attention paid to the consumers.  There seemed to me, however, to be a disconnect with the second half of his presentation which looked in obstetrics at the quality of education programmes but with the product defined as the specialist judged on their technical abilities, rather than on their communication skills and patient satisfaction.

I was supposed to have a book signing for ‘Essential Skills for a Medical Teacher’ at the Elsevier stand at the meeting but unfortunately no books were available.  Apparently they had sold out of all copies in the States prior to the meeting and I notice that on the American Amazon site the book is noted as ‘out of stock,’ although it is still available on the UK site.  A copy of the book was photocopied and made available at the stand but was stolen within an hour of it being on display.  The book, although only published this year, is already currently being reprinted.

Just before leaving for San Francisco I took part in the symposium at the Karolinska Institute where Cees van der VleProf-Harden.jpguten was presented with the 2012 Karolinska Prize for Research in Medical Education.  He gave two excellent presentations on assessment.  I had been asked to talk on research in medical education and chose as my theme for my presentation ‘The teacher as a researcher in medical education.’  Both our presentations were streamed and available online:
Part 1: http://bambuser.com/v/3102031
Part 2: http://bambuser.com/v/3102428

These will be added later to the MedEdWorld database of presentations on medical education topics.  The Karolinska symposium coincided with the severe storm and disruption on the east coast of the USA.  Adi Haramati mentioned to me that he was unable to get to work in Washington.  Instead he listened to the presentations streamed live online.

I have referred in my earlier blogs to the use of social media.  Writing in Management Today (October 2012), Charlie Osmond discusses the use of social media in business.  He suggests ‘there is rather too much social media hype and hoopla for my liking.  The excitement of the new has led to an orgy of noise from evangelists and consultants.’  He does go on, however, to spell out some of the potential advantages and uses.  He suggests that, for example, ‘LinkedIn is a fabulous resource for hiring, useful for sourcing candidates and also for reference checking.’  Charlie Osmond is co-chair of FreshMinds, a research and recruitment consultancy he started in 2000.