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