Summary: Professor Harden reflects on an interesting conference in a beautiful location after attending the International Medical Education Conference 2013 (IMEC 2013) in Mauritius. Description: I have just returned from the International Medical Education Conference 2013 (IMEC 2013) in Mauritius. On route I sAMEE-and-WorldSpan-team-members-at-C-IT-Award.jpgtopped over at London for a dinner to announce the C&IT Award winners. The AMEE 2012 Lyon Conference had been nominated and shortlisted in the Best Global Conference for 2012 category. Tracey Thompson, Pat Lilley, and I were hosted at the ceremony by Worldspan. The award went to Cisco Live 2013. While it was disappointing not to win, it was excellent for AMEE to be on the final shortlist. Gyles Brandreth an MP who frequently does television shows, was the MC for the evening. Tracey was returning to Dundee and took with her my formal dinner suit which I fortunately did not have to carry on to Mauritius.

I was impressed by the ICME 2013 Conference, which was held at the Intercontinental Mauritius. This proved an excellent venue for the meeting with ideal weather conditions. It is a beautiful island which sadly I did not have an opportunity to explore. I very much admired the Mauritian blue palm, which is a native of the country and the gardener in the hotel wanted to give me a small plant, but sadly I had to decline the offer. I suspect that even in my greenhouse over winter the temperature would not be sufficient for it to thrive – the winter temperature in Mauritius seldom falls below 15°C.

I gave the opening plenary at the meeting on Scholarship in medical education – fact or science fiction?. I used the analogy of a baker (Baking competitions are popular television programmes at present in the UK and I understand also in the USA.). I suggested that the good teacher is like a good technical baker, measuring and using the correct proportion of ingredients; like the modern technical baker using up-to-date equipment and new recipes; like the reflective baker who understands the different ingredients and can vary them as necessary; like the innovative baker who can create new cakes and recipes; and like the communicative baker who communicates the experience to other teachers in papers and at meetings. Emphasising the importance of the teaher as a scholar, I used the quote by Lawrence Stenhouse, “It is teachers who in the end will change the world of the school by understanding it.”.

I was very impressed by the great enthusiasm and engagement by the conference participants with the programme. The AMEE exhibit table was very popular. We took with us about 100 guides to sell and sold all of them on the first day! We ran a successful ESME Course with John Dent, Pat Lilley, Madalena Patricio, and Fareesa Waqar as facilitators. One relatively senior course participant at the end of the course said, “I realise that at present I am just a technician. I now want to be a teacher.” It will be interesting to see how many participants go on and complete their assignments and receive the AMEE-ESME certificate in Medical Education.

An ASPIRE workshop was scheduled in a room that was designed for 24 participants, but about 42 squeezed in! I introduced the concept of excellence. Madalena then introduced in five minutes the concept of assessment. Participants were asked to discuss with their neighbours what criteria they would suggest to assess excellence in assessment in a medical school. They were given five minutes for the task. I was very impressed by the suggestions we received. Everyone was anxious to contribute and give their views. Madalena then showed them the criteria that have been selected by the ASPIRE Assessment Panel. Trevor Gibbs did the same for social accountability and Khalid Bin Abdulrahman, who chairs the Student Engagement Panel, for student engagement. Pat Lilley explained about the ASPIRE process and how submissions are received and dealt with.

Lawrence Sherman from New York, who previously was a stand-up comedian and emergency care physician and is now a leader in CPD, gave an interesting presentation on the importance of faculty evaluation in CPD. He used the CME/CPD measurement strategy described by Moore and colleagues in 2009 that is based on earlier work in evaluation education done by Kirkpatrick. In the Moore model, there are seven levels of evaluation starting with the simplistic measurement of participation. I have often been critical of the lack in the Kirkpatrick Model of assessment of participation and indeed added this level when we first used the Kirkpatrick Model in the BEME Collaboration. In the real world, whether students or doctors participate in a learning programme is critical. Unfortunately, in many research studies the investigations start with the students having been enrolled in the programme or approach which is the subject of the evaluation. Lawrence Sherman has agreed to be one of our plenary speakers at AMEE 2014 in Milan and will be addressing the impact of technology on learning. I look forward to hearing him.

I was interested in a presentation by Rehan Khan and his description of how at Riphah International Medical College in Pakistan they had moved on the different continua on the SPICES model and from Level 1 to Level 7 on the Integration Ladder, which I previously described. I was interested to see the tools being used to assess curriculum change. Among the symposia was one on ethics and professionalism. Anis Ahmed, Vice Chancellor at Riphah University, provided an interesting and new perspective relating to the international meaning of ethical norms and values. He advocated the possibility of global ethical values and the inculcation in the personality of medical practitioners. Jan van Dalen from Maastricht had the provocative title, Professionalism doesn’t exist, but went on to make a plea for teaching ethics and professionalism in context. In isolation, he argued, they don’t exist. Usman Mahboob used the tree as a metaphor for understanding the process of professionalism with the fruits including empathy, propriety, responsibility, and trust and the trunk of the tree as self-regulation, which he argued needs to be strong for the tree to grow. Hidden in the roots were the conflicts and dilemmas relating to professionalism.

There was a rich collection of short communication and poster sessions. Many were of interest and highlighted the advantages of new approaches, such as team-based learning. One short communication which interested me was by Ozlem Midik from Turkey on Empathy and lifelong learning in the preclinical students which assessed empathy and lifelong learning tendencies of students as they went through the education programme. While recognising lifelong learning as an important learning outcome, I was not fully aware of Yelkin Diker Coskun’s work on a Lifelong learning tendency scale that was used in this study which looked at student progression in relation to the four subsets of motivation, perseverance, lack of self-regulation, and lack of curiosity. I think this is important work.

Madalena Paticio gave passionate plenary presentations on trends in curriculum development, including globalisation and social responsibility of a medical school and on humanism in medical education. Humanism was also addressed from a South African perspective by Athol Kent. I liked his quote from Daniel Sokol (2010), “A lecture without a story is like an operation without an anaesthetic.”

I look forward to participating in the fourth ICME, which is scheduled for 2015, but the dates and venue have not yet been announced.