“You seem to have students involved in everything!” (a recent visitor to Queen’s Undergraduate Medical Education)
One of the very striking aspects of Queen’s UGME is the consistent presence of students in the life of the program and how it is run. Queen’s has the positive philosophy that students are an asset and indeed an absolute necessity for assistance in the UGME curriculum; they are a strength in our program.
Why do we do this? One reason is that it fosters student leadership, a desirable trait in post-secondary education (Astin & Astin, 2000; Zimmerman-Oster & Burkhardt, 1999) and that in turn enhances the self-efficacy, civic engagement, character development, academic performance, and personal development of students (see references below.)
And yes, thus it is a deliberate UGME procedure that, for example, all UGME committees but one (the Progress and Promotions Committee) will have student representation sitting on them. However, there is another, and perhaps even greater reason that students are invited to participate as fully in UGME as they are.
“When educators partner with students to improve learning, teaching and leadership in schools, school change is positive and effective.” (Fletcher, 2003).
Our program, and our faculty and staff, not to mention our students, benefit immeasurably from student participation in our program: student feedback is valuable to our ideas and plans, our current processes and programs and our ability to be responsive and flexible. It allows us to trial ideas, to disseminate information, and to receive valuable input on aspects of our curriculum. It helps dispel myths and presuppositions we might have, it makes us flexible, and gives us a window into the world of student life.
At Queen’s UGME, in addition to active participation on all but one committee, students are involved in Admissions Weekends, they run Orientation Week for the next year’s cohort, they participate in peer teaching, they monitor learning events, they act as representatives for their class in everything from Technology Rep to Academic Rep to First Patient Program rep, they volunteer for focus groups and participate in surveys for program evaluation, they evaluate our courses and our faculty regularly and professionally and they are a part of our Accreditation process and visit. And I’m sure I’ve missed some of the roles students play.
The question then becomes, “Why would we NOT have students involved in our program?”
How do we receive the benefit of these future leaders?
UGME works in collaboration with the Queen’s Aesculapian Society (AS), the student government, which makes the selection of students for all roles. The AS engages in a process to determine a selection of students who will participate in all roles when called upon for student representation. The UGME program leaders respect the independent professional behavior of the students as they demonstrate self-regulation in their own governance structure to take on responsible roles. Indeed this is an important aspect of their leadership.
Many of the student leadership roles have evolved as our committee structure and programs grew. It became evident very early that student representation would allow for a valuable two-way street for discussion of nearly every aspect of the program.
We’re very grateful to our students for the insights they bring, the creativity and innovation, the energy and the professionalism they provide in our many activities. Together, we are stronger, and better.
Did I miss an aspect of student participation in UGME? Write in and let us know.
(See Benson & Saito, 2001; Fertman & Van Linden, 1999; Komives, owen, Longerbeam, Mainella, & osteen, 2005; Scales & Leffort, 1999; Sipe, Ma, & Gambone, 1998; Van Linden & Fertman, 1998. See also Duggan and Komives. (2007).)