Friday, July 29, 2011

Does there need to be a professional association specifically for medical education?

Academic medical educators often find themselves a bit isolated in our day to day lives.  Most of us are one of only one or two people in our academic department who have a strong interest in this area.  Getting together regularly with like-minded individuals is often hard on a local level as you increase the layer of complexity of meeting with other educators due to their own teaching and clinical activities combined with their separate departmental conferences and grand rounds.  Hence, finding a time to meet can be as difficult as trying to get the average academic physician to deliver timely formative feedback to a student on their performance.

I've been thinking about ways to improve connections between educators at a local level, and thought it may help to have a national (or international) level organization to add legitimacy that this is a worthy area of academic pursuit.  This could in turn foster more resources to help educators get together on a local level.  I am not aware of a major national professional association that is solely dedicated to improving medical education techniques and theory.  When I have asked which meeting to go to to present and learn about medical education research, I've been pointed to the AAMC meeting.  However, from looking at this meeting it is very large in terms of number of attendees, and includes much the administrative and policy side of running a medical school.  Thus, I see it as being a valuable meeting, but the work on education theory and practice is only a part of a much bigger whole.  The journal of the AAMC reflects these diverse interests, and again, is a worthy journal to read, but is more like JAMA than the Neurology.  Each journal has its place, but one is able to present a wider breadth of research as it has more focus.

I would propose an association of medical educators with the goal of sharing and disseminating information about advances in medical education learning theory, and teaching skills.  I would think including some ideas about administrative skills as they relate to running a clerkship or a basic science class would be included without losing focus.  I'm not aware that such an association currently exists.  Does anybody know of such a group?  Is there a meeting that I have missed?  I know there are some regional meetings (usually sub-groups of AAMC), but I don't think there is truly a national/international meeting about this.  Anybody want to join me as the first members of a new Medical Education Society?


  1. Hello Jeff,
    Well over here we have a few. There is ASME, a UK based organisation, the Association for the Study of Medical Education who publish the journal 'Medical Education'.
    AMEE used to stand for the Association for Medical Education in Europe but it now has a more international flavour. The annual conference is always in Europe (we're doing a workshop on social media and networks in Vienna next month). It also organises the 'Ottawa' conference which happens every second year and focusses on Education. AMEE publish the journal Medical Teacher.
    And then we have our newest professional body in the UK, the Academy of Medical Educators (AoME).
    Here are some links ASME AMEE Ottawa AoME
    Hope that helps,
    Anne Marie

  2. Thanks, Anne Marie. Part of putting this post up was to see if something already existed that could be built upon. Is any one of these European groups on the level of a group everyone would associate with education? For example, if I asked a random academic in Germany what organization is best for med ed, what would they say? In the US, I don't think there is a single entity that comes close to getting a consistent answer. Perhaps these groups just need more of a presence in the US, or a US/North American branch.

  3. AoME is the only one which attempts to accredit educators. It started quite recently and mainly UK based. The others are support organizations - mainly supporting research but also practice. Have you heard of BEME? That's an AMEE initiative.
    Good luck!

  4. Jeff:
    I certainly agree with you. As a whole, the "Clinician Educator" plays a major role across every specialty and subspecialty but is grossly under-appreciated because our currency does not necessarily come in papers with novel clinical research.

    I found a link that lists many of the medical education-based societies:

    You should also know that Anne Marie and I have been moderating a #meded chat (Thurs nites at 9 pm GMT in the UK, and 9 pm ET in the US) to focus on issues around medical education. Hope you can join us!

  5. As a US clinician educator just attended my first ASME meeting and it was a revelation. Would that there was such a group in US. I had dinner with a group of med students last night- 2 former public school teachers- who were bemoaning the lack of teaching skills of preclinical lecturers. I'm taking master educator course offered by Association of Academic Psychiatry and also taking a teaching skills class offered at Hopkins Medicine but agree with need for national nonspecialty medical education group.