In his latest blog, Professor Harden discusses matters such as Clinical teaching after COVID-19, Why a medical school should engage in research in medical education, and should important topics not be addresses in the final slot in a conference?

Clinical teaching after the COVID-19 pandemic

A BEME systematic review by Ciaran Grafton-Clarke and colleagues to be published in the March 2022 issue of Medical Teacher (published online) describes the approaches that have been adopted to maintaining learning that was delivered prior to the COVID-19 pandemic within the clinical workplace.

An astonishing 11,134 papers published to December 21st 2020 were identified. After various exclusions 55 studies were included in the systematic review.

Approaches documented included remote clinical interactions, remote multidisciplinary ward rounds and team meetings, and livestreams of surgery or procedures.

Experience in Singapore using simulation as a substitute for clinical practice in the COVID-19 pandemic was described by Sok Ying Liaw & Siew Tiang Lau (2022). Simulation sessions were implemented based on themes related to common ward nursing practices. Each simulation session incorporated two patients (one high-fidelity simulator, one simulated patient) in a simulated general ward setting.

Grafton-Clarke, C. et al. (2022) 'Pivot to online learning for adapting or continuing workplace-based clinical learning in medical education following the COVID-19 pandemic: A BEME systematic review: BEME Guide No. 70', Medical Teacher. Epub ahead of Print.

Liaw, S.Y. & Lau, S.T. (2022) 'Simulation as a substitute for clinical practice in the COVID-19 pandemic', The Asia Pacific Scholar. 7(1), 112-114.

Why a medical school should engage in research in medical education

I was asked recently to address a medical school as to why the school should not only make use of the results of research in medical education, but should in addition make a contribution to research in the field. I looked at articles and books on research in medical education for recommendations as to why a school should support and encourage research in medical education work in the school. While there were descriptions of research methods and approaches and the underpinning theory, I could not find an account as to why a school should support and encourage research in the field.

On reflection, it appeared to me that there were powerful reasons why a school or the teachers in a school should engage in research in medical education in terms of the benefits and value to the school, the benefits for the curriculum, the benefits for students, and importantly the benefits for teachers. In my book with Pat Lilley, the Eight Roles of the Medical Teacher (2018), one of the eight important roles discussed is the teacher as a scholar and researcher.

To what extent, financially, a school should support research in medical education is a matter of debate. Successful businesses all have important research programmes with regard to their product, whether it is the production of cars, the functioning of phones, or improvements in kitchen appliances. Medical schools also have a product, the students who graduate as young doctors. Schools should also undertake research into their education programme and the specification of their product.

Should important topics be addressed in the final slot in a conference?

“Where in the programme of a conference should the different plenaries be scheduled?” was an issue that was discussed at a meeting of the AMEE 2022 Conference Committee. I had scheduled an important plenary on a key topic with a dynamic and engaging speaker on the final conference session. Members of the committee, however, felt that placing it at the end of the conference devalued the topic and the presenter and asked it be moved to an earlier slot. I disagree. The two most important slots, I believe, are the opening and closing sessions in the programme.

Plenary presentations scheduled during the programme may get lost in a crowded programme and sandwiched between other sessions with presenters at the sessions that follow already thinking about their own next contribution. Participants may not attend a plenary during the programme, preferring to visit the exhibition hall, look at the posters, or have informal discussions with colleagues. They may choose to have an extended breakfast meeting or an hour longer in their beds rather than attending the first morning plenary.

Yes. Some conference participants will leave the meeting early to return home on a convenient flight. However, those who do attend will have made their mind up to stay and attend the presentation. For them, this may be the climax of the meeting from which they take home key messages. Messages from earlier plenaries may already have been buried and forgotten.

There is no correct answer to when to schedule a presentation in the programme. However, if I was giving what I thought was a key message at a conference I would prefer to be scheduled either in the opening or the closing session. Others may not agree. In music the overture and the finale are recognised as they are the most powerful parts of a performance in influencing how the audience feels at the end.

Posted: 07/02/2022