We Are Not Amused

Let’s be clear, I am no royalist. I find the concept of a hereditary monarchy unjustifiable, care nothing about who is where in the “line of succession” and find the media attention paid to every public appearance and utterance of members of royal family as they struggle with the “anguish” and “burdens” of their unearned privilege to be silly at best and offensive at worst.

But I like the Queen. In fact, I like her a lot. And it’s not just because she looks like my mother, although that doesn’t hurt. It’s not simply because she’s “the Queen”. It’s because she has been, in the admittedly perverse context of the life and times in which she has found herself, a rare and remarkable example of commitment to service who has, through her words and actions, attempted to understand the real needs of the people she is meant to serve, intervene as best she could, and consistently given expression to the very best aspects of the national character. In all this she provides an example for us all as we engage our stations in life particularly, I hasten to point out, those of us in the health professions.

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She has been forced to do so as the epicentre of continuing storms of controversy caused not by her, but by the shenanigans of the innumerable members of her extended family and in-laws. Her words, over the near 70 years of her reign, have provided solace and support in times of need. She has provided what, by all accounts, has been very sensible and citizen-focused counsel to no fewer than 14 British Prime Ministers, (beginning with Winston Churchill!). She has refused to submit to demands for “reforms” that would compromise the standards she has set for herself and for the position she holds. She has persevered. At the age of 95 and reputably quite wealthy, she certainly doesn’t need the work and, I imagine, could do without the aggravation. Who among us would not have retired to our estates and Corgis decades ago?

She has, in the vernacular of our day, been “one class act” in the evolving soap opera that has become the modern monarchy, the future of which now appears to hinge on her great-grandchildren– two toddlers and an infant whose duties to date have not yet extended beyond being adorable (a duty in which, I must admit, they have excelled).

And she’s smart! This past week we had a great example of regal grace and wit. Informed that she’d been elected, by a magazine and editorial team that should know better, to receive an “Oldie of the Year” Award, she crafted the following response:

“Her Majesty believes you are as old as you feel and, as such the Queen does not believe she meets the relevant criteria to be able to accept and hopes you find a more worthy recipient.

With Her Majesty’s warmest best wishes.” 

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A measured, dignified slap-down for the ages. Take that, you ageist boors! 

Among all the unearned privilege our modern world seems to be tolerating, it’s both refreshing and encouraging to find someone who not only appreciates their station but attempts to the best of their ability to rise to the responsibility that it provides, staying true to their values.

You go, girl!

Sorry. You go, Your Majesty.

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Summing things up: wrapping up case-based learning sessions effectively

We often spend a lot of time planning our learning events, especially our case-based small group learning (SGL) sessions. We tailor our sessional learning objectives to the course objectives that have been assigned, selected solid preparatory materials, build great cases and craft meaningful questions for groups to work through.

This makes sense, as the small group learning (SGL) format used in Queen’s UGME program is modeled on Larry Michaelsen’s team-based learning (TBL) instructional strategy that uses the majority of in-class time for decision-based application assignments done in teams.

One comment we often read on course evaluation forms and hear directly from students, however, is that sometimes they walk away from an SGL session and still aren’t sure what’s important.

Much of the focus in the literature on TBL is on the doing – setting things up, building great cases, asking good questions to foster active learning. There’s not as much written about how to finish well.

Wrapping up your SGL session should be as much a planned part of your teaching as preparing the cases themselves. If you build the time into your teaching plan, you won’t feel like you’re shouting to learners’ backs as they exit the classroom, or cut off as the next instructor arrives. Nor will you find yourself promising to post the “answers” to the cases on Elentra. Sometimes it’s not the answers that are important, but the steps students take to get there.

Wallace, Walker, Braseby and Sweet remind us that the flipped classroom we use for SGL (preparation before class, application in class) is one “where students adopt the role of cognitive apprentice to practice thinking like an expert within the field by applying their knowledge and skills to increasingly challenging problems.” One such challenge is figuring out what the key take-away points are from an SGL session. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to plan your session summary, but then have students take the lead since “the expert’s presence is crucial to intervene at the appropriate times, to resolve misconceptions, or to lead the apprentices through the confusion when they get stuck.”[1]

So, have your own summary slide ready – related to your session objectives – but keep it in reserve. In keeping with the active-learning focus of SGL, save the last 10 minutes or os of class to have the groups generate the key take-away points, share them, and fill in any gaps from your own list.

Here’s a suggested format:

  1. Prompt the groups to generate their own study list: “Now that we’ve worked through these three cases, what are the four key take away points you have about this type of presentation?”
  2. Give the groups 3-4 minutes to generate their own lists
  3. Have two groups share with each other
  4. To debrief the large group, do a round up of four or five groups each adding one item to a study list.
  5. Share your own list – and how it relates to the points the student raised. This is a time to fill in any gaps and clarify what level of application you’ll be using on assessments.
  6. If you’d like, preview an exam question (real or mock): “After these cases, and considering these take-away points, I expect that you could answer an exam question like this one.” This can make the level of application you’re expecting very concrete.

Why take the time to wrap up a session this way? Students often ask (in various ways) what the point is of a session. With clear objectives and good cases, they should also develop the skills to draw those connections themselves. This takes scaffolding from the instructor. As Maryellen Weimer, PhD, writes in Faculty Focus, “Weaning students from their dependence on teachers is a developmental process. Rather than making them do it all on their own, teachers can do some of the work, provide part of the answer, or start with one example and ask them for others. The balance of who’s doing the work gradually shifts, and that gives students a chance to figure out what the teacher is doing and why.”


If you would like assistance preparing any part of your SGL teaching, please get in touch. You can reach me at theresa.suart@queensu.ca


[1] Wallace, M. L., Walker, J. D., Braseby, A. M., & Sweet, M. S. (2014). “Now, what happens during class?” Using team-based learning to optimize the role of expertise within the flipped classroom. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 25(3&4), 253-273.

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Tenth annual Medical Student Research Showcase October 13

By Drs. Andrea Winthrop & Melanie Walker

This year the School of Medicine is proud to invite you to the 10th annual Medical Student Research Showcase on Wednesday October 13, 2021.

The event this year will be a hybrid one, held both within the School of Medicine Building and virtually.  Only those individuals who are presenting research (poster presentation or oral plenary), other medical students and faculty judges are permitted to attend the showcase in person.  We welcome all additional Queen’s Health Sciences faculty, staff and students to attend the oral plenary session virtually (details below).

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 2021 will be presenting their work, as well as many other research initiatives. This year we had a record 98 poster submissions and students will be presenting their posters from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 pm. The link to the 2021 Medical Student Research Showcase Abstract Book is on our Medical Student Research Showcase Community in Elentra at the following link https://elentra.healthsci.queensu.ca/community/researchshowcase:meeting_book__oral_plenary_link

The oral plenary features the top research projects selected by a panel of faculty judges and will run virtually from 12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.  Zoom Details can be found at the following link https://elentra.healthsci.queensu.ca/community/researchshowcase:meeting_book__oral_plenary_link (You must be logged in to Elentra to access this page).

This year’s faculty judges included:

  • Dr. Sheela Abraham
  • Dr. Susan Bartels
  • Dr. Anne Ellis
  • Dr. Laura Gaudet
  • Dr. Doris Jabs
  • Dr. Sonja Molin
  • Dr. Lois Mulligan
  • Dr. Nishardi Wijeratne

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.

Brian Laight – “Disruption of the non-Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Fes Enhances Cancer ImmunotherapyLaight, BJ; Hoskin, V; Alotaibi, F; Harper, D; Gao, Y; Greer, PA.*

Keshinisuthan Kirubalingam – “Opioid Prescriptions Following Otologic Surgery: A Population-Based Study” Kirubalingam, K.; Nguyen, P.; Klar, G.; Dion, J.M.; Campbell R.J.; *Beyea J.A.

Victoria McCann – “Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on substance use patterns and service access of street-involved individuals in Kingston, Ontario: A qualitative study” McCann, V.; Allen, R.; Purkey, E.*

Please set aside some time to review the abstract meeting book and attend the oral plenary via Zoom on October 13th. The students will appreciate your interest and support, and you will be amazed at what they have been able to achieve.

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