Summary: Professor Madalena Patricio informs us of her recent trip to the EMSA (European Medical Students’ Association) 25th Autumn Assembly as a plenary speaker. Description: I was invited as a plenary speaker at the EMSA 25th Autumn Assembly (http://emsa-europe.eu/) hold at the Charité Campus from 16th to 20th September 2015.
 
What an experience it was…. After the Assembly I sent a message to all students starting by saying ‘Dear EMSA Students, Dear Friends’ …   because this was really how I felt on September 20th after discussing the great challenges medical education is facing today and how AMEE (www.amee.org) is supporting the implementation of  the necessary changes. 
 
The students were enthusiastic and accepted the challenge of contributing to achieve EXCELENCE in their schools using the AMEE ASPIRE initiative (www.aspire-to-excellence.org) namely in the areas of students’ assessment, students’ engagement in the school, social accountability of the medical school and faculty development
 
When at the end of the plenary I asked students if they feel ready and motivated for the ASPIRE mission several of them intervened reinforcing their motivation.  Among them I would like to share the testimony given by one student sitting in the last row of the plenary room… He stood up saying he had to add something.
‘Dear Prof. Madalena, you will not remember me but I was at the EMSA plenary session in Portugal many years ago with you as the plenary speaker. At the end of the session you asked if students were ready to contribute to the progress of Medical Education along the lines discussed in the session…I remember very well that I got up and said … Sorry, but I am not ready…Today, four years later I must say that now I feel ready to assume this challenge.
 
The atmosphere was amazing at the closure of the plenary with students agreeing to encourage their schools to adhere to the ASPIRE initiative. I just  hope not only that they will keep energetic enough to progress but also that they will find receptive schools to achieve EXCELLENCE because although  basic standards are essential, they are no longer sufficient in a time medical education faces dramatic global changes.