Last week, a number of us from Queen’s School of Medicine were privileged to attend the Canadian Conference on Medical Education combined this year with the Ottawa Conference on assessment and evaluation, in Ottawa.

It was a jam-packed schedule with great ideas from medical education, teaching, assessment, evaluation, interprofessional education, Undergraduate, Post-Graduate and Continuing Medical Education and much more.  There were attendees from all over the world, as the Ottawa Conference is an international conference with conference locations that alternate among North America, Europe and Australia.

I’ve asked people for nuggets from the conference to share with you.  From my point of view, the whole conference was a panful of gold!


Here are some thoughts:
Dr. Tony Sanfilippo writes that the number and quality of submissions from Queen’s faculty and students were very impressive and indicative of an active and involved educational program.

In fact, from Queen’s there were:

  • 43 presenters of 13 posters
  • 52 presenters of 18 oral presentations
  • 2 presenters presenting at 1 symposium (Drs. Jane Griffiths and Karen Schultz on their portfolio and EPA work)
  • 16 presenters giving 9 workshops
  • 8 presenters giving 3 pre-conference workshops

(Thanks to Lori Rand for collecting these from the program!)

gold nugget 1Noteworthy:

  • Dr. Michelle Gibson and Dr. Bob Connelly were awarded the CAME Certificate of Merit Awards for teaching. Congratulations to them!
  • Dr. Danielle Blouin was awarded The Award for Outstanding Contribution to Faculty Development in Canada from the Association of Faculties of Medicine Canada (AFMC).  Congratulations!
  • Dr. Leslie Flynn gave a terrific talk at the Dean’s Reception, outlining all we’ve done in the Faculty of Health Sciences over the year.
  • Many of our meds students presented, including James Simpson, Marie Leung, Graydon Simmons  and Eve Purdy.
  • Meds students Rebecca Wang and Andrew Dhawan won the CHEC-CESC Virtual Patient Challenge, ($1000.00 prize) for  their online module Tackling Diabetes Together, Dr. Robyn Houlden, Advisor.
  • Stefania Spano, Meds 2016, exhibited her artwork, entitled Talking to Myself (\/Dialogue avec moi-meme, featured in the White Coat, Warm Art exhibit, below.


Eleni Katsoulas who is the UG Assessment and Evaluation Consultant offers this advice from a great workshop on Remediation:  Make remediation learner-centred by using these steps:

  • Step 1:Identify areas of deficits in terms of three domains: 1) Communication skills/Professionalism; 2) Knowledge/Clinical Reasoning; and 3) Efficiency/Time Mgt
  • Step 2: Identify his/her Readiness to Learn (using Stages of Change Model): Pre-Contemplation; Contemplation; Preparation.
  • Step 3: Formulate a learner-centred remediation plan; include remediation and monitoring
  • Step 4: Consider possible facilitators & barriers for learner-centred remediation

Theresa Suart our Educational Developer, adds to this from another workshop on remediation:

  • It’s important to have a remediation strategy, rather than responding reactively to individual situations. Learners still need individualized remediation plans, but having a strategy for how to address these needs will improve learning and administration for all circumstances.
  • We need to understand why a student is failing before applying a solution.
  • A coach model can be effective.
  • All schools are wrestling with these challenges

gold nugget 1Eleni also offers this great, succinct selection from a symposium Bridging the Gap: How Medical Education and Measurement Science can Better Collaborate to Meet the Growing and Broadening Assessment Needs:

  1. Dr. Kevin Eva noted the importance of distinguishing between performance orientation (performed well, satisfaction from grades and task avoidance) vs. mastery orientation (become proficient, deepen engagement and stronger motivation).
  2. Dr. Eric Holmboe spoke of the importance of a shared model of responsibility between students and faculty, (for example, where portfolio is a verb not a noun) and making assessment an active process with a lot of learner engagement.
  3. Professor Dame Lesley Southgate asked, “Has Assessment killed judgment?” “No, she concludes, “Measurement informs judgment through better design of assessment programmes.”

Dr. Laura McEwen who is the PG Assessment and Evaluation Consultant, offers this insight after 4 days of attending events on assessment:  assessment is hard, and competency based assessment is harder!  smile

Actually, what she really wanted to offer was a nugget to all of us managing and prioritizing our work from one of the speakers:

Laura heard about the importance of systematically aligning responsibilities with goals.  And so periodically (3-6 month intervals) it’s important to review what you are “Doing”, “Planning”, and “Dreaming” as a means of strategically managing competing professional responsibilities and informing prioritizing in relation to managing your academic career.

Theresa Suart attended a workshop on reflection, and found these nuggets:

  • Remind learners that not all experiences are transformative. Learners may, in writing a critical reflection, uncover a transformative experience, but they may also (equally importantly) write about a confirmation of learning.
  • Consider using a short narrative prompt or a poem to help learners with reflections
  • What are we assessing? Students’ abilities to reflect, or the learning they are reflecting about?  Can we/should we do both at the same time?
  • Theresa noted that “We seem to be facing the same challenges at medical schools around the world – the best ways to support learners and faculty with the resources (time, staff, funding) at hand.”

gold nugget 1

Dr. Peter O’Neill writes, “Queen’s success in the CaRMS match was shared across the country by sharing our careers curriculum and our student forms”

Dr. Michelle Gibson tweeted from Dr. Glen Regehr’s talk one of his many provocative slides:  (She actually took a photo of his slide and tweeted—an excellent way to collect, save and share from a presentation)

Everything we call cheating on high stakes exams we call good practice in the clinic:

  • Anticipating challenges and putting supports in place
  • Seeking collaboration and multiple perspectives on problems
  • Admitting we don’t know and looking it up instead of guessing
  • Double-checking rather than assuming you are right.

Working through pages and pages of notes, here’s what I found to share:

Adding to what we have learned about Entrustable Professional Activities (EPA), Dr. Ollie Ten Cate spoke about the “trust” part of entrustable and stressed the critical nature of observation in assessment and teaching.  Two resources I noted were:

  • Dr. Ten Cate spoke about the TED Talk, Should you trust your first impressions?
  • And he cited Dr. Cees van der Vleuten’s Utility Index, with Reliability• Validity• Educational impact• Cost efficiency• Acceptability as 6 components that should be balanced when creating an assessment tool.
  • He said we should observe rather than assume information about students’ knowledge and skill (competence), their truthfulness (honesty), their ability to discern limitations (show vulnerability) and how conscientious (reliable) they are. In this way, we can entrust them to carry out EPAs appropriate to their level of learning.
  • I have to warn you that a few of us attended a session on faculty development and making assessment learning enjoyable.  So stay tuned for some fun workshops around assessment!  🙂

gold nugget 1One thing we can certainly say:  We are all working hard on similar issues, ideas, and challenges across Canada and internationally.  It’s difficult to see what others are thinking and doing sometimes, and CCME gives us a venue to do this.  It’s a collaborative supportive space, with people really interested in sharing what they’ve done.  Next CCME is in Vancouver—come and join the learning!

What nuggets did you pick up at CCME/Ottawa Conference?  Write to the blog to add them!