Celebrating teaching and learning

This week the School of Medicine joins the other schools in the Faculty of Health Science for a Teaching & Learning Celebration featuring guest speaker Dr. Nicole Harder.

Nicole Harder, RN, PhD, CHSE, CCSNE

Dr. Harder, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, and the Mindermar Professor in Human Simulation, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba, will present the Susman Family Lecture on October 3 at 4 p.m. at the Britton Smith Lecture Theatre (Room 132) at the School of Medicine.

Dr. Harder’s position is an interdisciplinary one which includes simulation-based education and research for the Colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Rehabilitation Sciences, Nursing, and Pharmacy. Her current work is creating, implementing, and studying the use of a psychologically safe debriefing framework following expected and unexpected patient death in simulation and clinical experiences with health care students and practitioners.

For the Susman Family Lecture on Thursday, Dr. Harder’s topic is “Safety for all: Interprofessional simulation and non-technical competency development. 

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in Canada, medical errors contribute in upwards of 23,750 deaths per year, one million added days in hospital, and approximately $750 million in extra health spending.  While various strategies and technologies have been implemented to reduce these errors, they have demonstrated inconsistent improvements or even reductions in patient safety.  In contrast, simulation-based learning has demonstrated effectiveness in improving safety competencies.  In this presentation, Dr. Nicole Harder will discuss the role of interprofessional simulation in patient safety, and argue that a significant shift is needed to ensure that students and healthcare practitioners are afforded the opportunities to engage meaningfully in interprofessional simulation activities that will allow them to grow and develop the skills required for today’s healthcare practitioners. 

Following Dr. Harder’s presentation, teaching innovators from medicine, rehabilitation, and nursing will also share presentations:

School of Medicine –  Using Wikipedia as a platform for teaching EBM, presented by Dr. Heather Murray

School of Rehabilitation –  Innovation in Teaching a Research course to a Large Class with Diverse Backgrounds, presented by Dr. Setareh Ghahari and Dr. Mohammad Auais

School of Nursing -From competence to capability in the clinical setting, presented by  Ms. Jennie McNichols

Friday morning, Dr. Harder will lead Health Sciences Education Rounds ( 8 – 9 a.m.) in Room 104, Richardson Laboratories. Her Friday presentation will exploreUsing simulation as a pedagogy: Who’s who in the (sim) zoo?” Video-streaming is available at Providence Care Hospital: PCH D2.069 Videoconference Rm A. Anyone unable to attend Education Rounds at either Richard Labs or Providence Care Hospital may listen remotely by joining this ZOOM call at the appropriate time:  https://zoom.us/j/165499888

Simulation as a teaching and learning pedagogy is not new.  What is new is the availability of technology and the changing landscape of the education learning environment.  While the term active learning activities are frequently discussed among educators as a means to bring learning to life, there is nothing more active that a simulation based experience.   From students to faculty, to researchers and administrators, we all have different roles in developing and implementing simulation.  This session will discuss the various roles that we all have in developing and implementing simulation as an active learning strategy, and provide the audience with some suggestions on how to make the most of their time with students.


Registration for each event is appreciated but not required.

Thursday: Susman Family Lecture and FHS innovators: https://healthsci.queensu.ca/faculty-staff/cpd/programs/tlc2019

Friday: Health Science Education Rounds: https://healthsci.queensu.ca/faculty-staff/cpd/programs/hsernicoleharder

Posted on

Be a Mentor, Be Inspired by a Mentor

By Dr. Klodiana Kolomitro

Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences’ educators already inspire each other on a daily basis.  The Office of Professional Development and Educational Scholarship (OPDES) is excited to launch a formal Faculty Mentorship Network to help nurture this culture of guiding and supporting colleagues.  

The Mentorship Network’s purpose is to serve as a reciprocal process for sharing experiences and fostering a trusting environment for career guidance and psychosocial support.  Engaged participation in the program will advance the educational development of both Mentees and Mentors.

What is the time commitment?  7 to 10 hours per year

Mentors will participate in an in-person pedagogical café in November, where the Director of Education Development will provide an overview of the program as well as share resources on effective mentorship.  Also in November, Mentees will participate in their first educational webinar with a focussed topic to help guide their Mentee-Mentor discussions.  Following the initial sessions, mentors and mentees are encouraged to schedule meetings on a monthly basis. Each Mentee-Mentor relationship should be driven by the Mentee and will vary based on the specific needs and strengths of the individuals. The program will wrap-up with a celebration dinner in May. We hope you will consider this opportunity to offer scholarly generosity and nurture collegial engagement.

How can you participate? APPLY online before September30:

https://queensu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0ritqt5W5ZkDhwF

OPDES will do their best to match all interested applicants, but cannot guarantee that every Mentor and Mentee will be matched in this first cohort. 

For more information on the Faculty Mentorship Network: visit https://healthsci.queensu.ca/mentor or contact:

Klodiana Kolomitro, PhD

Director, Education Development

Office of Professional Development & Educational Scholarship

613-533-6000 x. 77899 | kk78@queensu.ca

Posted on

8th Annual Medical Student Research Showcase

By Drs. Heather Murray & Melanie Walker

This year the School of Medicine is proud to invite you to the 8th annual Medical Student Research Showcase on Wednesday September 18.

This event celebrates the research achievements of our undergraduate medical students, with both posters and an oral plenary session featuring research performed by students while they have been enrolled in medical school. All students who received summer studentship research funding through the School of Medicine in 2019 will be presenting their work, as well as many other research initiatives. The posters will be displayed in the David Walker atrium of the School of Medicine building from 8 am until 5 pm, with the students standing at their posters answering questions between 10:30 and noon.

The oral plenary features the top research projects selected by a panel of faculty judges, and will run in room 132A from noon until 1:30 pm on September 18, immediately following the poster session Q&A.

This year’s faculty judges included:

  • Dr. Sheela Abraham
  • Dr. Nazanin Alavi
  • Dr. Anne Ellis
  • Dr. Jennifer Flemming
  • Dr. Laura Gaudet
  • Dr. Faiza Khurshid
  • Dr. Diane Lougheed
  • Dr. David Maslove
  • Dr. Lois Mulligan
  • Dr. Chris Nicol
  • Dr. Stephen Pang
  • Dr. Michael Rauh
  • Dr. Damian Redfearn
  • Dr. Claudio Soares
  • Dr. Sonal Varma
  • Dr. Maria Velez

We are very grateful to these faculty members for evaluating our oral plenary applicants this year.

The three students who have been selected for the oral plenary session, and the titles of their research presentations and faculty supervisor names are listed below. Each of these three students will receive The Albert Clark Award for Medical Student Research Excellence.

Alison Michels – von Willebrand factor regulates deep vein thrombosis in a mouse model of diet-induced obesity

Katrina Sajewycz – Multidisciplinary Ambulatory Management of Malignant Bowel Obstruction: A Qualitative Study of Gynecologic Cancer Patients’ Experiences and Perceptions

Mehras Motamed – Inhibiting Pyruvate Kinase Muscle Isoform 2 with Shikonin Regresses Supra-coronary Aortic Banding induced Group 2 Pulmonary Hypertension

Please set aside some time to attend the Medical Student Research Showcase on September 18th. The students will appreciate your interest and support, and you will be amazed at what they have been able to achieve.

Posted on

Plastic Snow? It’s official…we’ve gone too far. It’s time to act.

Meet my grand-nephew, Tristan. He’s been visiting from Nova Scotia with his parents. He’s 7 months old and, this past week, is starting to crawl and had his first haircut. He’s also the inspiration for this week’s blog. But more about him later…

We’ve grown accustomed to reading reports of grave environmental threats. For most of us, there is as yet little direct impact and we’re able to regard these concerns in the abstract. With time and repetition, we develop something akin to resigned indifference, participating in recycling efforts with reluctant acquiesce. 

I’ve recently come across some information that should cause us all to pause, consider what’s happening to our environment and our own, personal culpability.

In a 2017 article appearing in Science Advances (Geyer, Jambeck, Law, Sci. Adv. 2017; 3: e1700782), researchers from three American universities and institutions with expertise in environmental issues reported on the “Production, use and fate of all plastics ever made.” Their conclusions are, to say the least, rather sobering. To summarize:

  • 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics have been manufactured to date
  • Of that, 6.3 billion metric tons remain as plastic waste accumulated in landfills.
  • Only 9% has been recycled, 12% incinerated
  • If current trends continue, it’s projected that 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste will find its way either into landfills or the natural environment by 2050.

The projections they have developed are rather frightening as portrayed in this graph from their paper:

Plastic products are, of course, designed to be durable. Basically, they don’t go away, and this article makes it clear that our current recycling efforts aren’t nearly adequate.

To put this into more comprehensible terms, researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology have recently estimated that 22 million pounds of plastic debris enter the Great Lakes every year. Our own Lake Ontario, which we Kingstonians walk or drive by every day, receives the equivalent of 28 Olympic size swimming pools of plastic bottles each year, and they don’t go away.

(https://phys.org/news/2016-12-metric-tons-plasticgreat-lakes.html)

If that’s not enough to get our attention, consider work recently published by Dr. Melanie Bergmann and her colleagues at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, also in Science Advances (Bergmann et al, Sci. Adv. 2019; 5: eaax1157).  

They point out that plastics don’t dissolve harmlessly into the environment, but under a number of physical stresses (mechanical abrasion provided by waves, for example, or temperature fluctuations) they can be broken into much smaller particles, termed microplastic, measuring less than 5mm. It’s already been well established that these can be found not only near large urban centres, but also in northerly ocean seabeds and coastal sediment. What hasn’t been clear is how they get there. It’s been postulated that microplastics have the capacity to be carried into the atmosphere and find their way to points very remote from their original dumping grounds. The capacity to become airborne not only explains this wide distribution, but potentially threatens human and animal exposure through inhalation.

To test this possibility, they set out to look for microplastics associated with snow because, in the words of the authors “snow is a scavenger for diverse impurities, and acts as a filter on the ground by dry deposition”.  Using techniques far beyond my understanding, they measured levels of various microplastics in snow samples gathered from ice floes and islands in the Arctic, and compared with samples from urban centres in northern Europe and from the Alps.

They found plastic microparticles in snow gathered from all sites. Although there was much more from the cities, there were detectable levels in the snow scooped up from ice floes drifting in the Fram Strait and on Svalbard Island in the far north, far from any population centre, in quantities they described as “substantial for a secluded location”.

They conclude that snow has the ability to bind these airborne particles and carry them back to earth, a process they term “scavenging”. They conjecture that this process can allow for microparticles to find their way into water supplies and food chains. They even recommend that large northern cities give thought to where they deposit collected snow in the winter, to avoid contamination of water sources.

If we needed any further convincing about the need to curb use of plastics, I think it’s now available. Particles from the bottles or straws that we use to conveniently transport beverages to quench our thirst are finding their ways to the most remote, unpopulated regions of our planet, previously considered pristine. The ice and snow, always symbols of purity, are now tainted. Children who will soon be running outdoors to frolic in the first winter snowfall may be putting themselves at risk.

Getting back to young Tristan, what sort of world are we shaping for he and his peers? What can we do, given the virtually ubiquitous presence of plastics in our society? Personal action, to be sure. We should make all efforts to minimize our own usage and maximize recycling efforts. But also political awareness, particularly in this election year. No political leader or party that fails to understand the true impact of environmental contamination is worthy of our support. We should expect well-articulated platforms that address both local and international approaches. We have a responsibility to be vigilant, not only for ourselves, but also for those not yet able to speak for themselves but have so much at stake. 

Posted on

Use the microphones, and other audio advice

Microphones can be intimidating to use and sometimes we think we don’t need to use them. (Especially those of us who have developed a “teacher voice” over the years). However, using the microphones available in the School of Medicine Building’s large teaching theatres (032 and 132) is essential to provide an optimal learning experience for all, especially those who may be using Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs), catching up with captured lectures, or video-conferencing in using Zoom.

These teaching spaces were actually designed to limit sound travel, so the microphones become essential equipment. “The theatres were designed to be like a recording studio, which means there’s minimum audio transfer throughout the room,” Jason Palmer, Classroom Technology and Media Coordinator* explained.

The building materials were selected with this minimal audio transfer in mind. It’s accomplished through acoustic panels in the ceiling and the wall paneling around the room.

“It isn’t actually wood, it’s an acoustic material. If you look at the wood up close, you’ll see microlaser perforations through the wood and if you look at the backside, it looks like a half-inch thick slice of pegboard MDF, but there’s a one milimetre skin of walnut over the top of the whole thing, with these perforations,” he pointed out.

Behind the paneling itself are two other sound dampening materials as well as insulators. One reason for these design choices was to ensure that when up to 16 small groups of 7-8 people were talking to work on cases (for example) that the noise level in the room “would not be outrageous.”

“If you had a room that was very echo-y, like a standard room with standard drywall, you would create a cacophony pretty quickly. It would be untenable because the first group starts talking, the second group has to talk a little louder to be heard over the first group, to the point that it would just be a chaotic sound,” he said.

“A lot of traditional old-school classrooms were like that, because they built them out of concrete walls, and they didn’t really think about [noise] or if anyone was talking other than the lecturer – and that was the point. We’ve changed the teaching model, to use this group learning methodology, and because of that, they had to make a lot of considerations for audio.”

The rooms were also designed to act as recording studios to facilitate lecture capture and broadcasting of learning events through technology such as Zoom meeting. For these recordings, the audio is taken from a direct feed from the microphone system, rather than recording the room at large.

There are three different types of microphones used the theatres, two for presenters and one for students/audience members.

Each theatre has a lavalier lapel microphone and a handheld one. The most often used by instructors is the lavalier mic.

The quickest way to remember where to clip the lavalier microphone is to put the microphone dead centre under your chin, Palmer said. “It means wearing things like button down shirts and ties to make it really easy. Wearing things like t-shirts and solid front shirts makes it more difficult.”

A sample passport pouch–a solution to where to clip the microphone and where to hold the unit for clothing without lapels and pockets.

A lanyard cord or strap from a passport pouch can also work. (Thank you, Dr. Sue Moffatt for this advice!) It’s helpful helpful to have either a pocket or a waistband/belt to clip the unit to, or if you’re using a passport pouch, the unit can go there.

“The reason you want it dead centre, is because a microphone is a cone, at 45 degrees. If I turn my head to either side and it’s dead centre, the microphone will still always pick me up. If I put the microphone off to the side, as soon as I turn to the other side, I’m gone.”

Some instructors prefer the hand-held microphones and these are also used for panel presentations. (There are now an additional four handheld mics available in 132 specifically for panel presentations).

When using the handheld microphone, the advice is to almost rest it on your chin and talk at a normal volume.

“The reason you almost rest it on your chin, is a microphone is really a very heavy thing. It doesn’t seem like it at first, but after an hour of teaching… the microphone starts to slowly lower down to your belly button.”

For both the lavalier and hand-held microphones, “red means stop, green means go,” Palmer said. “When you first turn it on it’s still red because it hasn’t synchronized to the receiver– this takes a bit less than two seconds. Turn it on, wait for the green, then start talking.”

Palmer does caution that a microphone isn’t a miracle worker. “If you are someone who is naturally soft-spoken at all times, a microphone won’t instantly make you louder. Contrary to what people believe a microphone is for. It’s not for amplification, it’s for sound for sound reinforcement.”

“What I tell people: When you pick up a microphone, you are talking at a dinner party to five friends, you’re not talking one-on-one to your friend. You’re also not talking at a Starbucks where it requires a lot more volume. You just need to elevate slightly – don’t yell, but at the same time, don’t talk really quietly.”

The microphones are equipped with AGC (automatic gain control) if you talk too loud and risk feedback and ‘brains’ in the microphone scale you back – so don’t worry, he added.

Do not blow into a microphone, as this can damage the equipment. “If you want to see if it’s on talk, or lightly tap it,” he advised.

The student desk microphones are activated from the main console by ensuring the “push-to-talk” mode is selected. (This is typically done by one of the technical staff first thing in the morning). Similar to the other microphones, there a one or two second delay from pushing to the microphone working. When the button is pressed, it flashes three times red, then stays on steady: at that point, it’s on. Push the button again to disengage. (It’s also automatically disengaged when another student microphone is pressed.)

The last thing he’d like students to remember about their table-top microphone system is that the mics are vulnerable to drink spills.

“All their drinks should have a lid. We don’t want to damage the microphones. Inside a microphone is a very complex arrangement of copper wire over a very thin membrane in order to facilitate sound,” he said.

Whenever there is a problem with a microphone or a button, please let the tech team know so they can fix them as soon as possible. For now, use the medsvc@queensu.ca email – there is a ticket system coming.

* * *

Still, some people insist they’re loud enough to go without the tech. Palmer, who has been working in these theatres since the building opened in 2011, disagrees.

“We have ONE presenter who is, absolutely, loud enough to present in that room without a microphone. That person also did Shakespeare at Stratford – has projection! I heard them through the glass [of the audio booth] as if they were standing next to me,” he said. But even that person needs to use the microphone, he added. Palmer cites three main reasons for everyone to always use the microphone systems:

1 Individuals with hearing difficulties may have problems hearing even someone who is projecting well, due to clarity, reverberation, and other ambient interference. “You want as much clarity as possible,” he said. Plus, the microphones feed directly to the Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs) that are available for use in both theatres. “It’s a ‘direct drop’ from the matrix, so it’s the cleanest line feed you can possibly get.” (I tried one out in the basement lobby outside 032 while a class was going on, and the feed even outside the classroom was excellent).

From left to right: an ALD unit; Jason Palmer demonstrates the earpiece for the ALD; two views of the ALD receiver unit. (T. Suart pictures)

There are four ALDs for each theatre. These can be signed out from the tech booth at the back. Students can just ask at the booth, or email ahead of time if they prefer (medsvc@queensu.ca). It takes moments to set up and with fresh batteries (provided) they’re good for eight hours. Each ALD has a sanitizable hearing cup that covers one ear.

There is also a portable Assisted Listening System (ALS) available if needed in another teaching space. It includes a microphone the instructor wears that feeds directly to the student’s system.  The ALS has one transmitter and eight listener units. To arrange to use the ALS, email medsvc@queensu.ca.

Palmer wants to make sure students aren’t hesitant to use the devices if they need them. “We always have a technician in the back room, so it’s always available.”

2 The microphone provides a direct feed for recordings for lecture capture – for both instructors and students. “It’s an opt-in system with lecturers, but just so people get in the habit of using the microphones. We need the students’ questions recorded, as well, because dead air and then an answer is not effective.”

“We are capable of doing Zoom video conferencing in each of the lecture theatres and without the microphones, people at the other site wouldn’t hear. We generally want everyone to have the same experience, plus, we really want that clean audio in that Zoom meeting.”

A fourth great reason to use microphones whenever they are available (not only in 032 and 132) is this helps to make our teaching spaces more accessible to all users — a requirement of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).


* He says he also answers to “Tech Guy”, “Computer Guy”, and “Guy in the Booth”.

Posted on

Welcoming Meds 2023

As the days get shorter and leaves begin to fall we reluctantly acknowledge that summer is giving way to autumn. In any university community another sure sign is the return of students, heralding the beginning of another academic cycle. At Queen’s School of Medicine, this past week marked the 165th time a group of young people arrived to begin their careers.

Photo by Garrett Elliot

This year’s group consists of 108 students, drawn from an applicant pool of over 5500. They come all regions of our country and backgrounds. One hundred and eight individual paths leading to a common goal that they will now share for the next four years. Eighty-four of them have completed undergraduate degrees, 30 Masters degrees, and five PhDs

They hail from no fewer than 53 communities spanning the breadth and width of Canada. The universities they have attended and degree programs are listed below:

   
   

 An academically diverse and very qualified group, to be sure.  Last week, they undertook a variety of orientation activities organized by both faculty and their upper year colleagues. 

On their first day, They were welcomed by Dr. Richard Reznick who challenged them to be restless in the pursuit of their goals and the betterment of our patients and society.

They were called upon to demonstrate commitment to their studies, their profession and their future patients.  They were assured that they will have a voice within our school and be treated with the same respect they are expected to provide each other, their faculty and all patients and volunteers they encounter through their medical school careers.  They were welcomed by Mr. Danny Jomma, Asesculapian Society President, who spoke on behalf of their upper year colleagues, and Dr. Rachel Rooney provided them an introduction to fundamental concepts of medical professionalism. 

Over the course of the week, they met curricular leaders, including Drs. Andrea Guerin, Lindsey Patterson and Laura Milne.  They were also introduced to Dr. Renee Fitzpatrick (Director of Student Affairs) and our excellent learner support team, including Drs. Martin Ten Hove, Jason Franklin, Mike McMullen, Josh Lakoff, Erin Beattie, Lauren Badalato and Susan MacDonald who oriented them to the Learner Wellness, Career Counseling and Academic Support services that will be provided throughout their years with us.  They met members of our superb administrative and educational support teams led by Jacqueline Findlay, Jennifer Saunders, Theresa Suart, Eleni Katsoulas, Amanda Consack, and first year Curricular Coordinator Jane Gordon

They attended an excellent session on inclusion and challenges within the learning environment, organized by third year student Alisha Kapur and student members of the diversity panel, supported by Drs. Mala Joneja and Renee Fitzpatrick. The presentation included dialogue from a panel of upper year students (Leah Allen, Palika Kohli, Vivesh Patel and Naveen Sivaranjan) who provided candid and very useful insights to their first year colleagues. That was followed by a thought-provoking and challenging presentation by Stephanie Simpson University Advisor on Equity and Human Rights.

Dr. Susan Moffatt organized and coordinated the very popular and much appreciated “Pearls of Wisdom” session, where fourth year students nominate and introduce faculty members who have been particularly impactful in their education, and invite them to pass on a few words of advice to the new students.  This year, Drs. Erin Beattie, Wiley Chung, Bob Connelly, Jackie Duffin, Michelle Gibson, Brigid Nee, Siddhartha Srivastava and David Walker were selected for this honour.

On Friday, the practical aspects of curriculum, expectations of conduct and promotions were explained by Drs. Michelle Gibson, Cherie Jones and Lindsey Patterson.

Their Meds 2021 upper year colleagues welcomed them with a number of formal and not-so-formal events.  These included sessions intended to promote an inclusive learning environment, as well as orientations to Queen’s and Kingston, introductions to the mentorship program, and a variety of evening social events which, judging by appearances the next morning, were much enjoyed.

For all these arrangements, skillfully coordinated, I’m very grateful to Rebecca Jozsa, our Admissions Officer and Admissions Assistant Rachel Bauder.  

I invite you to join me in welcoming these new members of our school and medical community. I leave you (and they) with the Bob Dylan lyrics that Dr. Reznick shared with the class this past week:

May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
And may you stay forever young

Posted on