Summary: This fortnight Professor Harden discusses establishing a new private medical school and personalised medicine. Description: I highlighted in my last blog some of the features at AMEE 2013 in Prague. In addition to the 3,300 participants in Prague, we had participants from 26 countries participating live online. This appeared to be a success. Moira Maley from Australia wrote expressing her appreciation of being able to engage with AMEE Live Online and ask speakers a question from her office in Albany. I was interested in an email from Goh Poh Sun from Singapore who wrote to say that he used the time at the meeting to network and watched the key symposia sessions from the comfort of his home and office once he was back in Singapore, appreciating the pause and playback features of the videos. See his blog, The Travelling Spud, for further information about some of the food in Prague!

Also at AMEE 2013 I had a bRonald-Harden-and-John-Dent.jpgook signing session with John Dent for the 4th Edition of our book, A Practical Guide for Medical Teachers. This contains significant new content, including new chapters. We signed over 150 copies of the book at the conference. There is also continuing interest in my book with Jennifer Laidlaw, Essential Skills for a Medical Teacher.

Multi-tasking is a controversial area as to its benefits and drawbacks in learning. I saw a new dimension of this at AMEE 2013 in Prague. With the rich programme and variety of sessions on offer, I sometimes wish it was possible to be at several different sessions simultaneously. Some participants try to do just that. While sitting in one session they tweet a colleague who is participating in another session and exchange views as to what is happening in the respective sessions.

In my last blog I referred to the eight schools that had been awarded the ASPIRE recognition of excellence in one or more of the areas of student assessment, social accountability of the medical school, or student engagement. I noted with interest that Hull York Medical School has already placed on the medical school’s website a photograph of the presentation of their award and the trophy. A more difficult task is explaining to the schools who did not receive an award the reasons for the decision. The deadline for the next round of submissions is November 30.

Why you gotta be so mean? is the title of a paper in the Chronicle of Higher Education, July 22 written by Erik Schneiderhan. He is concerned about nasty reviews of papers submitted for publication. He does not want to encourage mediocre work with falsely positive reviews but to put an end to reviews that are nasty without reason, critical without being constructive, discouraging where they should be encouraging. He believes that editors should do more to “edit out the mean stuff” in reviews. As an editor this makes me think, but it is not as easy as it seems. He feels that we could shame editorial boards by posting on a wiki mean quotes from reviews. That way, he suggests, over time we might begin to see if there is a concentration of the mean stuff at particular journals.

Hill Jason talked at AMEE 2013 in Prague about establishing a new private medical school in the UK with an imaginative and forward-thinking curriculum. University World News records on their website (September 1, 2013) that a private medical school in Malaysia, Allianze University College of Medical Sciences (AUCMS) is to expand to Europe with the purchase of a major university site in London. AUCMS, based in Penang, has five specialist medical schools and around 3,500 students. While it aims to secure accreditation as a British university in order to be able to enrol British students, for the time being existing AUCMS students from Malaysia will spend time there. The news item also records that in August, a UK private non-profit institution, the University of Buckingham, became the first private university in the country to be authorised to offer medical degrees. It will be allowed to exceed strict quotas imposed on public universities by the authorities in England on the number of international students who may be enrolled for medical degrees.

I have argued that the future will be more adaptive learning. Maria Rosa Fenoll Brunet told me that the European Parliament has set as a priority personalised medicine. I believe that a priority should also be given to personalised learning. With this in mind, I was interested to read about Knowillage LeaP, which claims to address the personal learning needs of every student by using language processing and analytics to determine gaps in a learner’s skill set and then provide the right tools, content, and techniques to address these areas of weakness.

If you want to see the future of medical education then talk to students like Eve Purdy, suggests Anne Marie Cunningham in her blog, Wishful thinking in medical education. You can listen to a discussion with her on ‘google hangout on air’.

This week saw the next round of our ESME Online courses with participants from 21 different countries around the world. My use of garden metaphors in previous courses attracted favourable comment. I started this time with a new photograph of my Chinese garden and the moon gate. One of the features of a moon gate is that you cannot rush through it and have to hesitate and see the view beyond. The point I was making was that an aim of our ESME Course is to encourage teachers and trainers to stop for a moment and think about their own teaching. Facilitators for the online group work are Pat Lilley, Trevor Gibbs, and John Dent and in Chile looking after the Spanish speaking participants are Arnoldo Riquelme, Ximena Triviño, Marcela Bitran, and Isabel Levia. We are trying something different this time. Participants have been divided into discussion groups of six, rather than groups of 16, and each group member is given the responsibility of facilitating their group under the direction of the course tutor for one of the two-week modules. Their performance is included as part of their assessment for their AMEE-ESME Certificate in Medical Education. Some schools are now including the ESME Course as part of their faculty development requirements. We are also actively looking at whether the ESME course can be recognised toward higher qualifications and some schools offering master’s programmes are exploring with us, giving credits for individuals who gain the AMEE-ESME Certificate in Medical Education.

Last week I enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the MedEdWorld webinar by Hill Jason on Helping our students learn to learn. As the result of local storms in the United States, his house had been flooded and he was conducting the webinar from a neighbour’s house some distance away. He highlighted four characteristics that we need to encourage in our students for effective learning: curiosity, process awareness, being reflective, and routine self-assessment. He talked about mature learners taking responsibility for their learning, reflecting during and about their actions, intentionally creating “changeable” habits, willing to be stretched, and welcoming feedback. With some useful examples he highlighted how we often do not give enough attention to the emotional side of learning. This webinar will be archived later in MedEdWorld and if you weren’t able to join it you might find it well worth watching the archived copy.

I was delighted that earlier this month my book with Jennifer Laidlaw, Essential Skills for a Medical Teacher, was highly commended at the BMA Book Awards in London. We had written the book as an introduction to medical education for those new to the field and as an overview for those already engaged. I was pleased that the reviewers agreed. Here is an extract from the judge’s comments…

"I would definitely recommend this book, especially to any people just setting out in medical education. The book's strengths are that it is an excellent first book for medical education. It is easy-to-read and find the right areas within it, in fact it is easier to look in this book and find a subject area and then look up the listed 'further reading' suggestions than it is to look in more comprehensive texts. This book covers all the basic requirements of an educator setting out and has lots of ideas and tips to ensure the educator will succeed. …”

I leave this week for the International Conference in Medical Education (ICME 2013) in Mauritius where I am giving a plenary presentation, running an ESME course with Pat Lilley, John Dent, and Madelina Patricio, and running an ASPIRE workshop to which Trevor Gibbs, Madalena Patricio, and Pat Lilley are contributing. I will give my impressions of the conference in Mauritius in my next blog.