Lectures aren’t inherently bad

In a pedagogical quest for active learning, we’ve somehow cast lectures in the role of arch-villain.

I’ve had conversations with faculty about their teaching which have started out with: “I know lectures are bad, but…”

This is definitely the case of a pendulum swinging too far. While research definitely supports active learning as the optimal way for students to retain learning – applying new knowledge either to simulated or real scenarios – the initial learning has to come from somewhere, and lectures are one of these sources.

Because of our focus on improving small group learning/TBL sessions in our curriculum, I can seem to be anti-lecture. The truth is, I’m actually a closet lecture aficionado. I own DVDs and CDs from The Teaching Company’s “Great Courses” series and love CBC’s Ideas. And the proliferation of podcasts has fed my love of lectures even more, as podcasts are nothing if not fabulous lectures. And TED Talks, who hasn’t lost a few minutes to those? Really, the world loves a good lecture.

Lectures absolutely have a place in universities in general and in medical education specifically. While we can’t – and don’t want to – return to a curriculum with 100% (or near to it) lectures, we can keep great lectures in our menu of methodologies to provide students with optimal learning experiences.

If you’re planning a lecture, or looking to improve an existing one, here are some things to consider:

Why do you want to do a lecture?

It’s ok if it’s just your first instinct, but think beyond that. Is this the best way to convey your content? How will providing this content in a lecture format enhance students’ learning?

Are you comfortable with the mechanics?

Lecturing is a skill which improves with practice. There are certainly standard “do’s” and don’ts”. For example, Don’t read your own slides; don’t keep your nose down in notes. And the classic: Don’t be boring. If you aren’t comfortable, do you have a plan to improve?

How can you keep things fresh and interesting for an hour or more?

Research on attention habits tell us that after 20 minutes of sustained listening, it’s hard to stay focused. With this in mind, how can you pace you lecture to break things up? Consider things like polls (with our PollEverywhere account), short think-pair-share activities, or other creative ideas. At least one instructor I know shows short topic-related videos and has the class stand up to watch them to get everyone out of their standard sitting positions.

What’s your follow-up plan?

If you think of lectures as content delivery, what’s your plan for students to be able to apply this new knowledge? Does your lecture lead into an application session in your own course or in another one? If you’re not the instructor for the follow-up session, be sure to coordinate with the person who is.

As with all your teaching endeavours, you’re not on your own. Get in touch – I’m here to help!

Posted on

Learning style quizzes are fun, but they shouldn’t inform teaching

When I completed my Bachelor of Education in the late 1990s, we spent a fair amount of time on learning styles. We explored Kolb’s styles (assimilator, diverger, accommodator, converger) and the VARK model (Visual, Auditory, Reading, Kinesthetic), and ones that incorporated relational aspects (social, independent, introvert, extrovert) in a quest to enhance our skills as educators to best meet our future learners’ needs.

It was presented as a “keys to success” insight – learn how to teach to each student’s preferred style, learn how to modify your instruction to meet every learner’s need, and all would be good.

From the learner’s perspective: figure out how you best learn, seek out learning experiences like that and voila – educational success.

We’ve heard this so often, from multiple avenues, that many of us accept it as an established principle rather than theories. (Just do a Google or an Amazon search and hundreds of sites and books will pop up).

A typical learning style inventory questionnaire and score sheet.

Human beings certainly have preferences – in learning and in all things. I really enjoy lectures. I like listening to someone else talk about an interesting topic and share knowledge and insights. I’ve had the pleasure of having some terrific history teachers, for example, who made things come alive in their storytelling. I learned a lot.

It was, in fact, an experience with a history course that helped me embrace the learning style message and hold it sacred for many years. I loved history and did really well in my high school courses without, I’ll admit, having to try very hard. Except for the unit on the Napoleonic Wars in Grade 11. I was away that week, at a conference, so instead of being in class for about an hour every day, I had the assigned chapters and the teacher gave me copies of his lecture notes. And I bombed the test. Being an auditory learner explained this. I hadn’t heard Mr. A’s lectures, so I didn’t learn as well. It made me feel better about my barely-passing grade, but was it true?

How did I usually learn history? I’d attend the classes (and take notes), read the assigned chapters, and reread my notes to study for the test. How did I do the unit on the Napoleonic wars? I read the assigned chapters and read my teacher’s notes. I actually spent about 50% less time on the unit than any other history unit that year. And I never took my own notes on that unit. Am I really an auditory learner and therefore didn’t test well on something I had to learn differently, or did I spend less time learning this material? Perhaps if I’d read the assigned chapters twice, or taken my own notes, or something else. Auditory learner doesn’t fully account for all variables.

Granted, I’m an n=1, but there’s an increasing body of research (with larger cohorts) that points to learning styles being a “myth”. Myth or not, there’s evidence that using a preferred learning style doesn’t lead to more or better learning. For example, Hussman and O’Loughlin (2018) found no correlation between learning styles and course outcomes for anatomy students, regardless of whether the students adapted their studying to align with their preferred learning style.

Knoll et al (2017) found that “learning style was associated with subjective aspects of learning but not objective aspects of learning.”

The other message in many of these studies: Context is key. Consider my history/auditory learning example, above. Lecture alone would not have gone over so well in an art history class. I may prefer to learn by listening, but isn’t it better to see the paintings rather than have someone describe them? Likewise, even if all the quizzes tell you that you’re an auditory learner, it’s a good bet that it still makes the most sense to learn about radiology using images. And procedural skills are best learned by actually physically engaging in them.

One on-going challenge of the cult of learning styles is it can become an excuse when students don’t master material (“The class didn’t suit my learning style” or “I need to better address students’ learning styles, how do I do that?”). However, a meta-analysis study by Hattie (2012) looked at 150 factors that affect students’ learning and matching teaching techniques to students’ learning styles had an insignificant effect (slightly above zero) (Hattie, 2012:79).

It’s good to remember that, as physicians, our students will have to learn and perform in a variety of ways (styles): reading, listening to people, looking at images of some sort or at patients when examining them, and use their tactile senses when examining patients, as some examples. Teaching them in a variety of ways, rather than using narrowly-focused learning style criteria, can only help them achieve this.

Key take-away points:

  • There are a variety of ways to learn and to teach and context matters
  • Some things are best taught in a particular way
  • We can have preferences for some learning experiences more than others, but we can learn in multiple ways
  • Your preferred learning style may not improve your learning
  • History lectures are always cool.  (They are, but that’s not relevant to this topic, really).

Note on classroom accommodations: Any discussion of learning styles and learning style research should not be confused or conflated with accommodations for learning disabilities or accommodations for physical disabilities which interfere with learning


My thanks to Dr. Lindsay Davidson, Director of Teaching and Learning, for talking through some of the ideas presented in this post.

References:

Hattie, J, 2012, Visible learning for teachers: maximising impact on learning, London, Routledge

Husmann, P. R. and O’Loughlin, V. D. (2018), Another nail in the coffin for learning styles? Disparities among undergraduate anatomy students’ study strategies, class performance, and reported VARK learning styles. American Association of Anatomists. . doi:10.1002/ase.1777

Knoll, A. R., Otani, H. , Skeel, R. L. and Van Horn, K. R. (2017), Learning style, judgements of learning, and learning of verbal and visual information. Br J Psychol, 108: 544-563. doi:10.1111/bjop.12214


Other cool reading on this topic:

From Frontiers in Psychology: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5366351/

From The Atlantic:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/04/the-myth-of-learning-styles/557687/

From the BBC:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161010-do-we-have-a-preferred-style-of-learning

 

Posted on

Improving your medical teaching practice one minute at a time

Making changes in how we do things can seem overwhelming – whether these are personal wellness habits, work habits, or teaching practice habits. In the face of a huge list or a major innovation it can seem easier to throw in the towel before you begin.

Sustaining change means adopting new practices and habits that you can stick with.

I recently took a six-week online fitness course that focused on these types of incremental changes. The course is designed for working and stay-at-home moms and recognizes that everybody is really, really busy. Our first challenge was to pick a new habit to adopt that could be easily incorporated into our regular day (I chose skip the elevator—take the stairs). Another challenge was to adopt a one-minute daily task and stick with it – because, as the course leader pointed out: everybody has one minute. I (finally) started doing daily balancing exercises for my multiple-injury-damaged ankles. I’m five weeks in on that new daily one-minute habit, so I think it’s going to stick.

Along the way, I started thinking about one-minute habits and how this could apply to medical education. So here’s my challenge to those looking to improve or change their teaching practice:

Think of one thing that you can do in one minute (a day, or one minute at a time) that could improve your work in medical education. Adopt that one-minute habit. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Immediately after teaching, take ONE MINUTE to jot down quick notes on what you want to change the next time you teach. Do it right after your session, or you may forget what it is.

  2. Create a Med Ed “feel good file” in Google docs or another electronic format (this might take more than a minute): put in things like great feedback fro course evaluations, notes to yourself when something went really, really well with a class or a clerk, notes on teaching things you’re really proud of. If you’re having a bad (teaching) day, pull up the file and take ONE MINUTE to remind yourself of the good things you do as a medical educator.

  3. Reserve the last minute of class, seminar, or rounds to get two-sentence student feedback on index cards – what’s their top take-away from your session/seminar/rounds and what’s their muddiest point right now? Have them take ONE MINUTE to give you this feedback. Over the next week, take ONE MINUTE a day to read through some of the cards. Use the feedback to inform changes to your teaching or to shape a follow-up session.

  4. If you’re logged into MEdTech, take ONE MINUTE to annotate your session objectives on MEdTech. You likely already have these objectives in your PowerPoint slides, so you can just match them up to the assigned ones. (If you have multiple objectives, use your ONE MINUTE to do what you can now!)

  5. Start a teaching ideas journal (could be a notebook, or a word file, or the Notes app on your smart phone). After you’ve read a journal article, or talked with a colleague, or attended a workshop, take ONE MINUTE to write down ideas for how to incorporate this new information into your teaching

  6. Email or phone me and ask for help. No, seriously, do this. True story: While I was writing this post, a faculty member called and said: “Do you have one minute right now for a question?” We might not solve your challenge in a ONE MINUTE phone call, but if not, we can set a time to get together.

Sure, you could take more time on some of these ideas — but not at the expense of feeling overwhelmed by “one more thing” on a big project to-do list. Also, remember, these are suggestions to select from. Don’t take on all of them, because that has potential to turn into an overwhelming, throw-away plan. Pick one or two, or create your own. Because everyone has one minute.

 

Posted on

Now what? Making the most of a conference, now that you’re home

Many of us from Queen’s UG – faculty, staff and students – are just returning to campus after a few days in Halifax, NS for the annual Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME).

CCME brings together those involved in all aspects of medical education from across Canada and beyond for workshops, meetings, plenaries, research orals and posters, and general sharing of innovations and challenges.

Like most jam-packed conferences, the information overload can be overwhelming. Here are five ways to make the most of your conference experience, once you’re back home:

  1. That Bag O’Stuff: If you didn’t do this prior to packing to come home, take two minutes to sort the “stuff” acquired at the exhibitors’ hall, at the poster presentations, and handouts from workshops. Are you really interested in that program/service/product/innovation or did you add it to your bag from habit? I sort my conference bag while standing over the recycle bin and keep only things I’m going to follow-up on. Put what remains aside for tip #2.

  2. Get out your Post-Its! For everything that’s left from your paper purge, put a note on it RIGHT NOW. In two weeks you’ll forget exactly why you picked that up – especially if you thought it might be of interest for a colleague. Write yourself those notes!

    Hmmmm. Why did I take this picture? Do I need to save it? Sort your files right now!
  3. Sort 2: Electronic edition: Did you use your smart phone to take pictures of posters or of presenter’s slides that spoke to you? Move them to a labelled folder NOW and offload to your computer to ensure they don’t get lost amongst your upcoming summer shots. Label things a la electronic stickies (see #2)

  4. Follow-through: Did you collect emails from anyone you met along the way? Did you make tentative plans to get together, pursue a project, or generally stay in touch? Send off that quick networking email now, before those potentially productive contacts are lost in the busy of day-to-day responsibilities.

  5. Plan ahead: Mark your calendar now for next year’s CCME in Niagara Falls April 16-19, 2019. (Abstracts open later this month!)

Posted on

The special challenges of researching teaching and learning

[Italics indicates a hyperlink]

We’re passionate about teaching and learning and equally passionate about evidence-based medicine. So, it follows that we’re also interested in evidence-based teaching methods. That translates into interest in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) at the School of Medicine.

This means we have teachers interested in conducting research studies about their teaching and in finding better ways to help students learn. This is a particularly challenging type of research that raises unique issues about power, confidentiality, captive populations, and the burden on participants.

The Queen’s General Research Ethics Board (GREB) issued a four-page guideline document on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in June 2017.

As much of the research conducted by those involved in the UGME program focuses on SoTL – and the HSREB is aligned with the Queen’s GREB – these Guidelines are relevant to research considerations for both faculty, staff, and student-led projects.

The Guidelines document draws attention to studies with direct student involvement, as well as self-studies, which both have implications for student privacy, including during the research dissemination process.

For studies with direct student involvement, other considerations that are highlighted include:

Power Differential

The power-over relationships between instructors/researchers and students can impact the students’ decision to participate in the research. This differential can be managed by keeping the instructors/researchers at arm’s length from the students by person or time [with suggestions provided]

Captive Populations

This term can be applied when participants are dependent on an ‘authority figure’ (e.g., instructor/researcher) who can infringe on their freedom to make decisions. [Guideline include ways to mitigate this risk.]

Participant Burden

The main purpose of formal education is for students to gain knowledge, not to be participants in research. If students are repeatedly asked to participate in research studies, their educational pursuits may be compromised. It may be of value for instructors/researchers to consider what other types of research are being conducted with students to diminish the impact of participant burden. Also, instructors/researchers should try to design studies that help enrich the students’ educational experiences instead of distracting from those experiences.

Confidentiality

Students may have concerns about whether or not their instructors/researchers know if they took part in the research. Students may feel their decision not to participate in the research could impact their academic trajectory. [Includes suggestions for how to mitigate this risk].

[Excerpts from pages 2-3 of the Guideline]

If you’re interested in creating a study related to your teaching in the UGME program, feel free to get in touch with the Education Team to talk through some of these challenges. We’re here to help.


The complete four-page document is available here under “Guidelines” or use this direct link to download the PDF file

Posted on

Five things attending a gaming expo reinforced about medical education

It’s March Break in much of Ontario – including for UGME students and faculty at Queen’s School of Medicine – so I found myself at “EGLX” in Toronto with my 13-year-old son. Billed as “Canada’s Largest Video Game Expo” the three-day extravaganza included virtual reality, cosplay, exhibitors, panels, artists, a giant Nerf battle, and various and sundry gaming competitions. Given that the height of my gaming career was “VICman” (a Pac-Man knock-off by Commodore back in the early 1980s) and playing a mean game of Tetris (so, translation: Worst. Gamer. Ever.), this is perhaps one of the last places anyone would expect to find me. However: moms do stuff. (Dads do, too. My husband valiantly went to TWO days of it). In this and other unfamiliar territory, medical education is rarely far from my mind. Here are five things the expo reinforced about Med Ed:

  1. Be open to new experiences

VR is cool, but the set-up takes some getting used to for it to work well.

This one works for both teachers and students. Whether it’s tackling a new subject or trying out a different teaching or assessment method, it can pay off to be brave and just dive right in. While I’m not a gaming convert, EGLX gave me a new view to some of my son’s interests and showed the breadth of the industry. When we do the same thing over and over again, we can get trapped in our own “bubble” of experiences and not realize what else is out there. There’s value in new perspectives.

  1. Learning works in multiple directions

I’m used to being in the role of educator – both as a parent and at work, where I’m mostly behind the scenes in the planning stages. It’s important to remember that learning isn’t mono-directional. At the expo, I was the rookie, and my kid the mentor. (And my husband, the trade-show veteran, was the navigator). In medical education, learning comes from our faculty, our students, allied health professionals, our patients and their families.

  1. Technology is cool

More pedaling = more power

What starts as games can turn into tools and vice versa. Some of the virtual reality stuff at the expo was pretty cool (fly like Superman, anyone?) and, for parents, the cycle-to-power-the-game stuff never gets old. (Just when am I going to be able to buy one?). Likewise in the classroom and clinics – what’s the next good thing to enhance learning?

  1. Celebrate accomplishments

One whole segment of the expo featured projects by students at Sheridan College. While this, of course, served to promote the programs at the college, it also gave students well-deserved recognition for hundreds (thousands) of hours of work, problem-solving, and creativity. Sometimes the accomplishments of our students and faculty become routine to us – we need to take time to showcase and celebrate the great things we’re doing.

  1. If something doesn’t work the first time, try something else.

My son wanted to meet some of the YouTube gaming celebrities. (Yeah, I learned this is a thing). Our first day there, we were waiting in a very long line that was moving about one person every five or six minutes. I counted those ahead of us, did some math and figured we’d be there for about 2.5 hours before we hit the front of the line. We ditched the line and went to an awesome ribs place for supper instead. The next day, my son and husband went to one of the YouTube gamer panels, left strategically early, and landed second in line. Likewise in Med Ed, sometimes we introduce innovations and don’t get them quite right. We need to step back, figure out what went wrong, and go at it a different way.

Next week: Five things about medical education reinforced by the multiple shoe stores at the Vaughan Mills Mall. (Just kidding…. Maybe).

Posted on

2018 KHSC Exceptional Healer named

[Italics indicates hyperlink]

We wrote about the Kingston Health Sciences Centre Exceptional Healer Award last fall (link here) encouraging nominations for the second iteration of the award which recognizes a physician who demonstrates in clinical practices the core concepts of patient- and family-centred care: dignity and respect, information sharing, participation, and collaboration. It’s sponsored by the KHSC Patient & Family Advisory Council.

In February, Dr. Shawna Johnston was named the 2018 winner of the award. Dr. Johnston was praised by the selection committee for putting patients and families at the centre of care.

(Left to Right) Patient Experience Advisor Sue Bedell, Chief of Staff Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick and Dr. Shawna Johnston Credit: Matthew Manor/KHSC From: http://www.kgh.on.ca/kghconnect/news/privileged-be-her-patient

Patients, families and staff nominated 21 physicians for the award. Thirty-four nominations were receive, with about 25 percent coming from KHSC staff. (Medical students are included in the “staff” category and may submit nominations). This annual award was created by the Patient & Family Advisory Council to honour physicians of KHSC for demonstrating the core concepts of patient and family-centred care (PFCC) in their clinical practice. These concepts are: dignity and respect, information sharing, participation, and collaboration.

Dr. Johnston, a urogynecologist and international expert on vaginal health, was cited for providing the highest respect and empathy for her patients who deal with pelvic floor disorders such as organ prolapse and urinary incontinence.

One patient wrote: “She took her time and explained the surgical procedure. She was innovative in drawing diagrams for me and allowed time for me to ingest this information and to ask as many questions as I needed. I never felt rushed.”

Dr. Johnston was also praised for treating family members as partners and “an extension of the clinical team.” It was also noted that Dr. Johnston models these behaviours to residents. This, one patient noted “is a gift from her to future practicing physicians and to the communities that will welcome them.”

Dr. Johnston works with Queen’s medical students in MEDS 443, the Obstetrics & Gynecology clerkship rotation. Herself a graduate of Queen’s School of Medicine, Dr. Johnston said that she was trained to be a good listener by the late Dr. Neil Piercy.

“I was taught to always put myself in my patient’s shoes, especially when surgery is involved,” she told KGH Connect. “It’s a big decision, and you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. That’s why my patients help me to decide what will work best for them. I’m always open to more questions—I spend a lot of time on the phone—because the patient needs to buy into the treatment. Otherwise, it’s not good care.”

“Families play a big part in treatment decisions because they’re the ones supporting the patient at home,” she added. “The choices we make need to work from both the patient and care provider perspective.”

Patient Experience Advisor Sue Bedell, chair of the award selection committee, was delighted by the staff support for the award. “It shows that fellow caregivers, along with patients and families, deeply appreciate physicians who provide respectful and compassionate health care.

Other physicians nominated for the award were:

  • Dr. Manny Bal
  • Dr. Michael Brundage
  • Dr. Barry Chan
  • Dr. Jay Engel
  • Dr. Michael Flavin
  • Dr. Michael Leveridge
  • Dr. Peter MacPherson
  • Dr. Laura Marcotte
  • Dr. Andrea Moore
  • Dr. David Reed
  • Dr. Michael O’Reilly
  • Dr. Mark Ropeleski
  • Dr. Robert Siemens
  • Dr. Sid Srivastava
  • Dr. Yi Ning Johanna Strube
  • Dr. Benjamin Thompson
  • Dr. Anna Tomiak
  • Dr. Naji Touma
  • Dr. Brent Wolfrom
  • Dr. David Yen

Posted on

On a gumdrop cake fail and multiple points of assessment

What can a failed gumdrop cake remind us about assessment?

I’m a pretty good baker and love to indulge myself when there’s time, like last month’s holiday season. For me, baking is partly about eating (of course!) but also about tradition, hospitality, and comfort.

Just before Christmas, I set out to make a gumdrop cake. It was an unmitigated disaster. When I turned it out of the pan, it collapsed. (See embarrassing photo at right).

Based on that single point of baking, a casual observer could determine that I’m a lousy baker. In fact, I should be barred from the kitchen and given directions to the closest bakery for all subsequent treats. This wouldn’t be a fair representation of my skills, just a snapshot of a single – bad! – evening.

It’s the same for our system of assessment in the UG program: no single assessment determines a student’s progress. We use multiple points of assessment, both in preclerkship classes and through clerkship rotations, to ensure we have an accurate portrait of a student’s performance over time. Admittedly, some assessments are higher stakes than others, but no single assessment will determine a student’s fate in the program.

Anyone can have an “off” day – for any number of reasons. What’s important following poor performance, is to take stock of what happened, reflect on what may have contributed to the poor outcome, and make a plan for next time.

I was really upset. I’d made this many times. I was “good” at this. Had I somehow lost my baking mojo? Plus, I was embarrassed — as well as annoyed with myself for wasting all kinds of butter, sugar, eggs, flour and gumdrops!

My adult daughter gamely offered this advice: “Sometimes a new recipe takes a few times to get right.” Except it wasn’t a new recipe. I’ve made this gumdrop cake dozens of times for over two decades. What could possibly have gone wrong? I reread the recipe (photocopied from my mother’s handwritten book) and my scrawled notes in the margins. I’d used mini-gummy-bears in place of the “baking gums”. In trying to be cute and expedient (didn’t have to chop those up!), I’d sabotaged my own cake. I’d also forgotten to put the pan of water on the bottom rack, but I thought that was likely pretty minor.

For students after a poor assessment, that same reflection can help: did I study or practice enough? Was it efficient study/practice? Was I under the weather? Did I have enough sleep? These self-reflection questions will vary based on the type of assessment, but it boils down to this: What can I learn from this assessment experience and what can I do differently next time?

I waited over a week before I attempted the gumdrop cake again. In the meantime, I (successfully) made four kinds of cookies, a triple-ginger pound cake, and a slew of banana breads. Then, I bought the right kind of baking gumdrops and remembered to follow ALL the instructions, and it turned out just fine. In fact, I sent some to my parents in New Brunswick and my mother judged it “delicious”.


With thanks to Eleni Katsoulas, Assessment & Evaluation Consultant, for her continued counsel on assessment practices.

Posted on

Facebook thinks I’m a doctor…

 

And other unusual things that happen when you’re an educational developer at a medical school

It’s a unique and interesting thing being one of the non-medically-trained employees who work (mostly behind the scenes) to help run the undergraduate medical education program at Queen’s. On the one hand, friends and family can sometimes think I’ve magically completed medical school in the types of questions they ask me. (I only work there, I say). On the other, through day-to-day interactions, I have absorbed terminology and “insider” information.

Having quietly marked my five-year anniversary working in medical education at the end of September, it was time for a little reflection. Here are five of the more unusual things that likely wouldn’t have happened to me before I worked at Queen’s School of Medicine:

  1. A new resident was surprised when, during a follow-up visit, I referred to my condition by name (gastroesophageal reflux disease), rather than calling it heartburn. “Most people don’t call it that,” she observed with surprise. I’d just done a curricular search for where and when we teach it – and at the earlier visit, that’s the term they used, so I paid attention.
  2. I can find my way around most of HDH and most of KGH most of the time. And I know there are THREE hospitals in Kingston, not two. (I just haven’t figured out the new Providence Care layout yet.) I’ve learned the “logic” of the multiple wings, the naming conventions, and – when all else fails – where to find the volunteer desk to ask directions.
  3. I now know that what you think something is might not be what it actually is. Case in point: My colleague’s son was diagnosed with OCD – but he’s not the least bit obsessive, so how does he have obsessive compulsive disorder? There’s another OCD, diagnosed by orthopedic specialists: Osteochondritis Dissecans of the knee. (It also stands for Ontario College Diploma, but that’s another story).
  4. Facebook thinks I’m a doctor. No, really, I get ads for MD Financial Management services, and medical conference. It’s based on analytics harvested from my Google searches (because everything is frighteningly linked these days). I search for things to assist with curriculum development, and voila! Facebook has changed my profession.
  5. I actually use those ubiquitous hand sanitizer dispensers while entering and leaving the hospitals. Every single time.

Because, as an educator, I just can’t help it: here are educational take-away lessons and considerations from these musings:

  1. When you’re “inside” you can forget what it’s like to be “outside”: how can remembering this influence communication, for example, in explaining acronyms, procedures, or what happens next? There’s power in language and understanding.
  2. When we’re familiar with buildings and facilities, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be in an unfamiliar place and worried about getting around. How can we make instructions and directions as clear as possible?
  3. Don’t assume. If you’re not sure: ask. For example, we’re talking a lot about EPAs lately in undergraduate medicine. We don’t mean the US Environmental Protection Agency, but Entrustable Professional Activities. Even if we’re trying hard to adhere to my suggestion #1, we might slip up. Speak up and ask for clarification.
  4. Facebook still thinks I’m a doctor now and again, but more recently it’s promoting space-saving storage ideas and junk removal services. (I’m still adjusting to our downsized townhouse, 15-months in). The lesson here: We leave digital footprints everywhere we go. Intentionally (e.g. through public Twitter posts) or unintentionally through Google searches, nothing we do online is private. How should this influence what we do and how we do it?
  5. Paper cuts and hangnails do not like hand sanitizer. At all. Ever. Be careful.

Here’s to the next five years.

Posted on

Nominations open for next Exceptional Healer Award

Instilling the values of patient-centered care is one of our goals in the UGME program. It’s also what the Kingston Health Sciences Centre Exceptional Healer Award recognizes in physicians from both the Hotel Dieu and KGH sites.

Launched earlier this year, the Exceptional Healer Award is sponsored by the KHSC Patient & Family Advisory Council. It honours a physician who demonstrates in clinical practices the core concepts of patient- and family-centred care: dignity and respect, information sharing, participation, and collaboration.

Patient Experience Advisor Sue Bedell brought the idea of the award to the Patient and Family Advisory Council and is now coordinator of the award project.

Patient Experience Advisor Susan Bedell

“I happened to have a particularly compassionate and empathetic doctor,” Bedell explained in an interview for how she came up with the idea. “I think it’s important for all people, for all physicians, and healthcare professionals, to be treating sick and injured people with compassion and empathy.” So, she looked for a way to recognize this. She presented her idea to the council at Hotel Dieu, and drafted terms of reference and a nomination form. “I wanted to make sure that I could persuade not on the patient council, but the administration that this was something doable, so they approved it,” she said.

For the first time through, Bedell had hoped to get five or six nominations: instead, the council received 22. Response to the creation of the award was “better than I had ever expected,” she noted.

A selection committee, including Bedell, two other patients, two staff members, and the chief of staff, reviewed these submissions. For the first award, it was a tie: ophthalmologist Dr. Tom Gonder and anesthesiologist Dr. Richard Henry were the winners for 2017. Each received multiple nominations, Bedell said.

Bedell shared that the major themes from all the 2017 nominations were the nominated physicians were dedicated listeners, showed empathy and compassion, took time to spend with patients, focused on inclusion and care of family members, shared information with patients, and demonstrated humility.

“All of these are easy to attach to the core concepts of patient- and family-centred care,” Bedell noted.

Following the first iteration, which had a February deadline, it was decided to run the next iteration earlier in the year, with a November deadline for nominations with the committee’s decision in December, and the presentation early in 2018. The deadline for nominations is Friday, November 3.

Patients and family may nominate a physician who has provided care to them in the last two years. KHSC staff can also nominate members of the health care team. Bedell said that medical students on clerkship rotations can submit nominations.

“I do hope, in the long run, that through this award, and these role models can influence medical students,” Bedell said. “When they listen, to have the intent to understand, rather than just reply – that would be an example.”

“Being a dedicated listener seemed to be most important to the nominators,” she added.

Bedell emphasized that both KHSC hospital sites are full of very competent, skilled, compassionate doctors, and this award is one way to recognize these attributes

There’s still time to nominate a physician for the 2018 award. With the amalgamation of the two sites into the Kingston Health Sciences Centre, physicians from both the Hotel Dieu and Kingston General Hospital sites are eligible to be nominated. Full details are found here on the Exceptional Healer Award website.

Posted on