My ‘Top 4 List’ from AMEE 2019

The Association of Medical Educators in Europe (AMEE) held their annual conference in August 2019 in Vienna, Austria. AMEE is among the largest annual medical education conferences in the world and this was my first time attending the meeting. Here are 4 topics that I enjoyed most from AMEE 2019.

St. Charles Church, Vienna, Austria - Photo by M. Gisondi.

St. Charles Church, Vienna, Austria - Photo by M. Gisondi.

The AMEE conference has been on my medical education bucket list for many years. AMEE brings together health professions educators, scholars, researchers, and graduate students from around the world. The meeting has a little something for everyone, whether you publish education research regularly or are new to the field. I left inspired, with several ideas for new projects and collaborations.

Here are the top 4 topics that I enjoyed most from the meeting:

Learning Analytics. Big Data is transforming ‘assessment for learning’ in the health professions. If smartly designed, we can automate the collection of numerous and meaningful data points from our evaluation systems and electronic health records. The goal? Accurate learner assessment that should lead to truly individualized learning plans for our students. To explore the potential of learning analytics, start by reading the work of Erik Duval, the Journal of Learning Analytics, and the Learning Analytics Manifesto.

Patient Engagement in Teaching and Learning. A major theme from the AMEE 2019 meeting was patient engagement in health professions education. What role can patients play in bringing medical content to life for the learner? Does the shared experience of a patient serve to better contextualize illness and cement learning in the mind of the trainee? A wonderful and moving plenary was presented on this topic by Sue Sheridan, the Director of Patient Engagement for the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. I encourage you to view the documentary, To Err is Human, which features Sue and her family in a discussion about patient engagement in the prevention of medical errors.

Threshold Concepts. I first learned the term ‘threshold concept’ in a faculty development program at Northwestern University in 2006 — and I was able to revisit the topic through several presentations at AMEE 2019. Simply, threshold concepts are core concepts. A learner must fully understand a threshold concept before they can move on to more complex and advanced material. I explained this to my daughter while in Vienna by saying, “you couldn’t learn long division until you learned how to add and subtract”. In emergency medicine, I often teach the threshold concept that syncope is a cardiovascular process, not a primary brain illness; novice learners often suggest brain imaging when they encounter their first syncope patient. A Private Universe is a wonderful tool for better understanding how threshold concepts affect learning, produced by the Annenberg Foundation.

The Joy of Collaboration. I attended AMEE with three of my research collaborators, who over the years have become close personal friends. The meeting provided a venue to present two of our recent publications - but more importantly - traveling to this conference together was a chance to reflect on the importance of our personal and professional relationships with one another. Below is a link to one of the research papers we presented, “Learning to Learn”, published recently in AMEE’s journal, Medical Teacher.

September 1, 2019

Co-Authors of Original Article: Linda Regan, MD, MEd – Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes, Laura R. Hopson, MD - University of Michigan, and Jeremy Branzetti, MD - New York University.