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Harden's Blog > Harden's Blog - '2021'

November 2021 - Medical Education Presentations

In his latest blog Professor Harden discusses Medical Education Presentations, evidence of student engagement, faculty development, and the OSCE in Russia.

Medical Education Presentations

The 19th Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference (APMEC) will again this January be a virtual event. I always look forward to participating in APMEC and have been pleased to give a plenary presentation at all 18 previous conferences. I regret I have not kept a better record of my presentations which highlighted some of the changing priorities and trends in health professions education over the years.

Raja Bandaranayake has made important contributions to medical education. In a newly published book, Presentations in Medical Education, Raja takes us on a memorable journey through presentations he has made at conferences over a period of 43 years. A number of books have been published in medical education in recent years. This one, however, is unique in a number of respects. It provides a historical perspective but at the same time addresses topics of interest today.

In one chapter there is a fascinating account of the evolution of problem-based learning (PBL) starting 1883 or before. Raja addresses the evaluation and implementation of problem-based learning with remarkable insight. Some schools cited as having adopted PBL have now moved away from the approach. It is worthwhile acquiring the book even if the only chapter you read is this one on problem-based learning.

There is a description of how in 1920 Celestein Freinet, a French schoolteacher, returned to rural France after World War One with injuries which left him too short of breath to speak to his class for more than a few minutes at a time. As a result he broke away from the conventional approach of talking to attract children’s attention and found a new method better adapted to his limited physical strength in which pupils were encouraged to:

  1. Take control of their own learning.

  2. Be creative.

  3. Communicate effectively.

  4. Be cooperative.

  5. Adapt to daily living.

  6. Evaluate their own progress.

All are ingredients of PBL.

Hostility led him to resign from the state school system in 1935 and open an independent school.

Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambridge, UK.

Evidence of student engagement

I highlighted in previous blogs the importance of student engagement in the development and implementation of an education programme. This increased emphasis on student engagement is reflected in the large number of letters from students submitted to Medical Teacher, commenting and critiquing articles published. A quantitative study of letters by students to editors of 15 medical education journals by Anvarjon Mukhammadaminov was published in Medical Education Online (2021) (26(191,2879)). Over two years 299 letters written by students were published. 125 of these were published in Medical Teacher. Affiliation of the students submitting letters was recorded with five schools accounting for 60.5% of the letters. Imperial College London was one of the top three schools, with most letters published.

There is clearly something special about student engagement at Imperial College London. The school is one of the small number of schools internationally who have received an ASPIRE Award for Excellence in Student Engagement. Imperial also appears top of the rankings in the newly published Times Good University Guide 2022. It was just one of the universities who had improved their student satisfaction rating over the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other schools saw their ratings fall, some by more than 100% points.

Faculty development – of the greatest importance

Yvonne Steinert and Diana Dolmans edited the August 2021 Special Issue of Medical Teacher devoted to Faculty Development. Faculty development is recognised as a critical component of medical education. The issue sheds light on some developments in the field, and included in the issue is a section that showcases a number of innovations in the field of faculty development. The research published and innovative reports highlight the need for staff development practices to be nimble, creative, and proactive in adapting to change, “Faculty members and faculty developers need to demonstrate the ability to adapt to novel, uncertain, or complex situations for maintaining their competence in routine circumstances.

The OSCE in Russia

Zalim Balkizov has sent to me a book on the OSCE published in Russian. This is a translation of The Definitive Guide to the OSCE by Harden, Lilley, and Patricio (2015). Zalim tells me that the OSCE is now widely adopted in medical schools throughout Russia and is the required assessment of students’ clinical competence. It is now part of the licensing exam in all 95 medical schools in Russia.

Posted: 16 November 2021.

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