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Educación Médica

versión impresa ISSN 1575-1813

Educ. méd. vol.12 no.1  mar. 2009




Some reflections on the AMEE Annual Conferences

Algunas reflexiones sobre los congresos anuales de la AMEE



A. Wojtczak

Exdirector del International Institute for Medical Education (IME)
Expresidente de la Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE)



When in 1998 AMEE Conference in Prague was attended by 400 participants mainly from European countries, Canada and the United States, 10 years later in 2008 the AMEE Conference in Prague was attended by over 2,300 medical teachers from about 80 countries. This primarily the European Association in a decade has became the global forum for medical educators attracting every year more and more teachers from literally all part of the world and in particular from Middle East and the Asian continent. It is interesting that a great number of new participants came from Iran, Thailand and Malaysia. In Prague about 60% of attendees were newcomers, eager to learn about new advances in medical education that could be introduced to improve the quality of education in their country. They also wanted to share with others their own educational experiences and achievements. This fast growing number of participants is associated with the increasing number of papers to be presented. Therefore, the conference organizers are setting growing number of simultaneous plenary and large group sessions, small group discussions, workshops and posters sessions. It creates situation in which the participants, especially those attending conference for the first time, are moving around, listening to various presentations on ‘successful’ experiences and solutions of different educational problems. Simultaneously, the growing number of different meetings during the coffees or lunch breaks is taking place what further is limiting the personal contacts and possibility of exchanging views. On top of that a growing number of attendees is limiting possibility of finding the country that can organize the conference as the first requirement is access to a big conference center. In principle, this development is extremely satisfying and encouraging for the AMEE executives, however one has to ask what kind of knowledge and experiences the attendees are able to take back home that can be effectively used in their work? No doubt this is the price of a fast growing interest in medical education. However, if AMEE wants to influence the medical education globally it is obligated to think what can be done to ameliorate this situation and to increase the educational gains of attendees and permit them to take back some knowledge to use it at home to improve the quality of educational process. The question is what can be done to ameliorate this situation?

An important organizational step was already taken two years ago, the organization before opening conference so call ‘orientation session’ that is designed for new attendees providing them information about AMEE history, tasks and scope of activities, and about conference program with an indication on the various points of greater importance. Another important event is so call ‘Spotlights session’ organized at the end of the conference with aim of summarizing most important outcomes. However, these summaries depend too much on the speakers and very often are reflecting their own views than the issues steaming up from the presentations. I feel that it is necessary to develop more structured pattern for these presentations with stress on some practical implication for process of medical education. These innovations are definitely the important steps, but we need to consider more such innovations. Here, I would like to suggest the introduction at the beginning of some sessions the ‘master lectures’ that would review the present ‘state of art’ of most interesting approaches to medical education that are under broad discussion and experimentation. It would enable the participants more critically listen to the various presentations and judge their pertinence. Such topics definitely is the outcome-oriented education, the methods of assessment of clinical skills and especially professionalism, the problem based learning (PBL), or community-oriented medical education to mention few. Such ‘state of art’ lectures delivered by the experts in a given aspect of medical education at the plenary sessions by the experience educators could help to better comprehend the various presentations, avoiding misunderstanding and then failures in implementations when back in own countries. It is our obligation to prevent uncritical accepting many attractive but poorly evaluated educational experiments.

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