Summary: Having returned from another successful AMEE Conference, Professor Harden highlights key events that happened during the conference in Glasgow, UK. Description:

The early feedback from AMEE 2015 conference participants in Glasgow has been very positive and I will be interested to see more detailed comments in the conference evaluation questionnaire. The meeting certainly got off to a great start with the Red Hot Chili Pipers on Sunday evening. Participants went away with a different perception of bagpipes! A personal frustration at AMEE conferences is that I am unable to attend some of the sessions where I have a particular interest. This year I wanted to participate in the Hackathon and the Flipped Classroom sessions, but this was not possible. My daughter, Jeni who is a senior lecturer in Social Sciences in the Medical School in Edinburgh attended her first AMEE conference and was able to give me some feedback. The workshop she contributed to on the teaching of the behavioural sciences and a core curriculum was well attended. Jeni is leading a MedEdWorld Special Interest Group on teaching the behavioural sciences. This has been organised in cooperation with BESST. You may be interested to join in the discussions.

There were over 700 posters presented at the meeting and it is not possible to study each at length or attend the poster presentation sessions. Where a poster aroused my interest I found particularly useful, the takeaway sheet provided by the poster authors which could be studied more leisurely and serves as a reminder of the poster messages. More poster presenters made such sheets available this year.

I always find informative and at times challenging, the input from the audience at the plenary and symposia sessions. I think we could have scheduled more time at the conference for this. I would have liked to have seen explored in more depth, for example, Fiona Patterson’s report on a systematic review of approaches to selection which is to appear in Medical Education. A summary table which she presented showed a rating for validity for each of the selection methods. Academic records were rated as of high validity. Validity was judged, however, on the extent to which the method predicted the student’s academic performance in the medical school. One could argue that this is not the aim of selection but rather that it should look at validity in terms of the other attributes of a good doctor.

At the conference we saw on stage presentations to the ASPIRE to Excellence award winners. Schools recognised for excellence in student engagement this year were; Charité – Universitatsmedizin, Berlin, Germany; University of Leeds, School of Medicine, UK; Utrecht University, Faculty of Medicine, Netherlands; Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, Canada; Uppsala University, School of Medicine, Sweden and Chulalongkorn University, Faculty of Medicine, Thailand. Fifteen representatives from Charité wanted to be on stage to receive the award and it was great to see their enthusiasm. If we were to award the best dressed recipients it would be to the staff from the University of Chulalongkorn who came onstage immaculately dressed with matching shirts, ties and blazers. Sadly, of the seven schools who had applied for ASPIRE recognition for social accountability none were deemed by the committee to meet the criteria required. The Social Accountability Panel ran a workshop at the conference when they explained the criteria. Concern has been expressed by representatives from established schools recognised for their excellence in other areas and for their education programme, that it is not possible for them to achieve what is expected.

One of the many pre-conference activities was a symposium on assessment of clinical competence held at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. Apart from the academic programme, the highlight of the day was the opportunity to meet after dinner at a session “Medical history comes alive – step back into time”, actors playing the role of historic figures in medicine. These included Joseph Lister, David Livingston, Peter Lowe and Sir William McEwan. The actor, dressed for the part, explained to small groups of participants their personal contribution to medicine and answered questions about it.

At the AMEE conference, Wojciech Pawlina gave me a copy of the July/August 2015 special issue of Anatomical Sciences Education. It featured interprofessional education in the anatomical sciences. Interprofessional education is certainly on today’s agenda in medical education. Seventeen years ago, writing in Medical Teacher I suggested, in the words of the Lennon and McCartney song, we might wish to join the “magical mystery tour” of interprofessional education – magical because, in the context of the changing nature of clinical practice and the implications for medical education, it offered the possibility of miraculous results; a mystery because the outcome was uncertain and the seas to be travelled were relatively uncharted. Since then, the importance of interprofessional education has been widely recognised. The papers in Anatomical Sciences Education highlight that we need not wait until the clinical or later years of the course to introduce interprofessional education and that it can be successfully implemented in the context of an anatomy curriculum.

I have referred in previous blogs to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). Maastricht University are offering a MOOC on Problem-Based Learning, starting on October 5th. It will be interesting to see how this is tackled and how many sign up for it. As customary for MOOCs there is no charge to enrol. We have received a number of suggestions that AMEE should offer our ESME courses as MOOCs but there are no plans for this. The ESME online courses have been well received. The next series starts later this month. At the ESME Board of Studies in Glasgow we discussed making available online the ESME courses on research and on assessment.