February 2015 | ISSUE 16
LKCMedicine launches new Medical Education Research and Scholarship Unit

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LKCMedicine launches MERSU with an opening seminar featuring a stellar cast of local and international medical education research experts

On 3 February, LKCMedicine launched its new Medical Education Research and Scholarship Unit (MERSU) with an opening seminar featuring some of the world’s leading experts in the field.

Hosted by LKCMedicine Dean Professor James Best, the launch at the School’s historic Headquarters building was attended by medical education research professionals from across Singapore.

Up until the 1970s, medical education was built on the concept of ‘see one, do one, teach one’. But over the last 40 years, the field has moved beyond the apprenticeship model, coming into its own.

LKCMedicine Vice-Dean for Education Associate Professor Naomi Low-Beer said, “MERSU will take a programmatic approach to medical education research and scholarship. Focusing on four key themes will enable us to develop significant expertise, make our name on the world stage and ultimately contribute to improved patient care.”

The unit has already gotten off to a flying start with a  $35,000 NTU EdeX grant to study and enhance the transition experience of students as they pass from learning predominantly in a classroom environment to a workplace-based one.

MERSU Director Associate Professor Katharine Boursicot said, “We’re collaborating with the National Healthcare Group’s Health Outcomes & Medical Education Research unit on this project, but our findings could have implications far beyond the medical field, affecting fields such as engineering.” This project forms part of the Student and Faculty Experience research theme, one of the four themes that MERSU will pursue.

Another research theme, and a hot topic in medical education, is Professionalism and Development of Professional Identity. Studies have shown that disciplinary action among practising doctors is strongly associated with unprofessional behaviour at the undergraduate level.

“We want to contribute by looking at the unique circumstances that influence professional identity development specifically among LKCMedicine students. We suspect that cultural differences, the regard which society holds for medical professionals and students’ five-year service obligation may all affect that development,” said Assoc Prof Boursicot, who is also Assistant Dean for Assessment & Medical Education Research at LKCMedicine.

MERSU’s other two research themes are:

  • Assessment of Competence; and
  • Use of Technology-rich Pedagogical
  • Approaches to Enhance Learning and Teaching.

MERSU will also focus on building capability through the development and mentorship of individual faculty and clinicians.

Assistant Dean for Course Evaluation and a member of MERSU Dr Sandra Kemp said, “Through MERSU, we want to support all educators who wish to build on their teaching experiences through engagement with research and scholarship. Through this engagement, we seek to encourage and support faculty and clinicians on their professional development journeys as educators.”

Looking ahead, Assoc Prof Boursicot hopes that over the next five years, MERSU will deliver some significant publications and contribute new knowledge to medical education that has relevance for Singapore and globally.