October 2022

Unlocking the Next Level Potential of Human Interactions - From Define to Deliver

Over the last few days, I have been hearing the words “Appreciative Inquiry” in different contexts from my colleagues. While it was not a new concept for me, I decided to delve deeply into it in my spare time.

Last week, we had a faculty development session at Gulf Medical University, UAE, titled “Orientation to Mentorship”. For the first time, I learned about the 5 Ds of mentorship, which are:

  • Define (what is it)?
  • Discover (what going well in the situation)?
  • Dream (how can you improve the situation)?
  • Design (what should be your new strategy to bring the change)?
  • Deliver (how would you apply the design to bring the change)?

    It was a fascinating and informative session about how to guide your mentees based on these 5 Ds. Since the topic piqued my interest, I started further exploring it in my own time. As I read more and more about it, I was amazed by how the three concepts – Appreciative Inquiry, the 5 Ds, and mentorship — interconnected with one another.

    In essence, Appreciative Inquiry stands on the principles of appreciating what is good in a situation and moving towards making the situation better. This is different from the usual deficit-remedial model used widely in Medical Education where the starting point is based on what’s going wrong.

    In addition to student advising and mentorship, Appreciative Inquiry can also plays a critical role in Problem-Based Learning by directing students’ energy towards their strengths. An important aspect when applying Appreciative Inquiry with Problem-Based Learning would be the type of questions posed by the facilitator. The questions should be crafted with a positive focus designed to look for and strengthen the positive potential of students. 

    Appreciative Inquiry is also used as a change management process in organizations that can be applied in medical universities to enhance the potential of their faculty. Appreciative Inquiry utilizes a collaborative dialogue to identify what worked well in the past through inquiry and discovery. Faculty members are then guided through a process of building on these past successes, or moments of excellence, to create a better future. This can be applied via program evaluation and faculty development sessions. 

    However, one should always keep an eye on the negative as well. Channelling negative energies in a positive way is at the heart of Appreciative Inquiry. I propose to test the theory of Appreciative Inquiry in other contexts like assessment, curriculum and research in Medical Education with a critical eye, though I am already stunned by the myriad applications of Appreciative Inquiry. I can’t wait to apply these positive energies in my daily work life as well.

    Dr. Farah Azhar
    MBBS, MHPE (University of Dundee)
    Program Coordinator MHPE
    Gulf Medical University, UAE