December 2018 | Issue 39
A significant milestone for medical education

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By Asst Prof Jerome Rotgans, Medical Education Research, Lead for Course Evaluation and Learning Strategy

When I started to write this short message about the Transform MedEd 2018 conference, I realised that I do not have much to say about the conference itself, because in my view it was a great success. The conference was well-organised, the turnout was excellent for an inaugural conference, the plenary sessions interesting and varied, and most importantly, there were interactive discussions after the symposia and short communication sessions that provided opportunities to actively engage with the speakers and the audience. All in all, congratulations on a job well done!

I would like to use this opportunity to share some thoughts about medical education research at LKCMedicine in general. In my view, the conference is testament to the progress of medical education research at the School. It is fair to say, that the quality of our research contributions during the conference – not to forget those of our students – paralleled many other, well-established, researchers in the field. This is a great achievement considering that our education research programme is still in its infancy (big grants are yet to come).

During my conversations with participants at the conference, it became apparent that our success is mainly ascribable to the strong commitment and support from senior management, which is a luxury most other medical schools do not have. In fact, many medical schools had to downsize or even shut down their medical education research units and departments as a result of the last financial crisis. At LKCMedicine, we went in the opposite direction: medical education research is now on par with the other research programmes. Of course, we still have a long way to go, but this is a unique opportunity to establish ourselves as a leading institution in medical education research.  

Where do we go from here? It is clear that the initial priority is to study Team-Based Learning, since it is our signature pedagogy (as Maastricht University did, when they adapted Problem-Based Learning). The next priority in my view is extending the research programme by conducting more fundamental psychological research on how students learn – in particular, how they learn to diagnose patients. To achieve this, critical mass is needed. A PhD programme in medical education, involving clinicians and medical educators, can potentially attain this objective and build bridges between medical practice and education. Let's take stock again at the next Transform MedEd conference in 2020. Exciting times for medical education researchers!