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Harden's Blog

March 2020 - 'You can't cancel Spring'

You cannot cancel Spring

With the required isolation, working at my desk at home, I am able to enjoy Spring in the garden. The camelias are outstanding this year, as are the daffodils and other spring bulbs. Camelias are said to represent understanding and patience, both of which we need at this time. In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee the old lady is known for her racism and intolerance. Jem is forced after he cuts down her camelias to apologise and visit and read to her every day. With Jem’s visit she improves and overcomes her own demons. When she dies she gives Jem a box with a camelia inside.

The camelia also represents the value of close partnerships. Unusually for flowers, the petals and the calyx remain joined together throughout the life of the flower. At this difficult time partnerships and working together are even more important.


AMEE’s response to COVID-19 pandemic
We have ben thinking hard about how AMEE can best respond and support teachers, students, and others working in health professions education at this difficult time, unimaginable even a few months ago. Our initial response is on the AMEE website . This includes webinars addressing how we can adapt our education programmes. In last week’s webinar Trevor Gibbs, Judy McKimm, Jennifer Cleland, and Richard Fuller explored how as teachers we can respond to the difficulties facing us in planning our learning programme and making assessment decisions. Almost 900 registered for the webinar, a recording with the presentation and questions is available online. Another two webinars are planned, see here and here for details and to register. We have accepted for publication in Medical Teacher an initial set of short articles describing immediate responses to the challenges, with later when we have hopefully returned to normality a more reflective series of articles. There are also a number of useful articles on the theme published in MedEdPublish.

AMEE 2020
Sadly, we have had to postpone AMEE 2020, scheduled to be held in Glasgow in September. An announcement of the plans for the postponed conference and will be made later this week. Replacing the meeting in Glasgow this year we are working on an AMEE 2020 Virtual Conference with details to be announced shortly.

Medical education improves medical care
I am sometimes asked for evidence that what we do in medical education actually improves the care our patients receive in practice. Vujcich et al (2020) describe how a mandatory short-term community-based placement in the University of Notre Dame School of Medicine, Australia, improved medical graduates’ responsiveness to the health needs of rural Australians.

Vujcich, D.L., Toussaint, S., Mak, D.B. 2020. "[It's] more than just medicine": The value and sustainability of mandatory, non-clinical, short-term rural placements in a Western Australian medical school. Med Teach. Epub ahead of print.

Playing about with data
In her blog of 24th February, Pat Thomson suggests that sometimes it’s good to take some time to simply play about with the data from our research work – to experiment and see what happens if we gain new insights. She makes a number of suggestions in her blog and perhaps this is the time to explore her ideas further.

Finally, smile at email and online conference abuses
I always feel overwhelmed at the number of emails I receive and the number of web conferences I am expected to attend. Jennifer, my daughter, sent me two video clips which highlight in an amusing way some of the common abuses with emails and web conferences.

I hope everyone is well and coping at this difficult time.

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