Medical education is not straightforward. At a meeting of over 3,500 healthcare educators from around the world, there were theories and approaches put forward about the best way to education of physicians and there were debates around these. I’ve been attending these meetings for almost ten years, and the conversation is continuing and evolving. It’s never without controversy. Some of the comments I heard this year:
“Embrace complexity but act with simplicity.”
“If you torture data long enough, it will confess to anything.”
“Learning is not knowledge transmission but knowledge reconstruction.”
The opening plenary at AMEE 2016 was delivered by Graham Brown-Martin, an innovator in education. Graham’s talk was focused on education in the school sector, leaving it to us, the audience, to translate into the implications for medical professional education. We also heard that the idea of teaching critical thinking, one of my personal passions, gets lost in teaching facts needed to pass a test or get to the next course. Sound familiar? Graham highlighted how schools need to equip children with the knowledge and skills to reimagine society, to meet the challenges of their generation. Surely this is true for medical education as well.
The propensity for technology to be used to continue old methods of learning based on information transmission was raised and the fact that teaching should not be a delivery system like UPS was well stated. The challenge of teaching is to promote a learning environment, not the transmission of facts. The overall message (and a continuing message of the conference) was that we need to be doing more to foster and nurture the creativity of our professionals in medicine.
On a light note, a novel approach to teaching was Seán MacPherson, the singing hematologist from Otago Medical School, teaching hematology through catchy songs. The example below is a song about anemia.