Awarding certificates in Lahore

The awarding of certificates was the highlight of this visit by Centre for Lifelong Learning (CLL) staff to the University of Health Sciences (UHS) in Lahore, Pakistan.  A total of 71 certificates were presented by Richard Weyers, Head of the British Council in the Punjab, to medical educators who had taken part in, or taught on, programmes run at UHS with support from CLL staff.

For the last three years Janet Strivens and Ian Willis have been visiting UHS to work with local staff to design and deliver programmes for staff at different stages of their teaching careers.  The Introduction to Medical Education (IMT) is a non-accredited course for staff who are just starting to have teaching responsibilities; probably the equivalent of Graduate Teaching Assistants or very new academic staff at the University of Liverpool (UoL). The Certificate in Medical Education (CMT) is UHS accredited and assessed and is for teaching staff who have secured permanent posts and have significant teaching responsibilities.

This is an innovation in Pakistan where there are relatively few opportunities for medical educators to receive training for their teaching roles.  There is also a jointly developed Masters in Health Professionals Education; no awards were made for this programme but most of the local staff who taught on the IMT and CMT are studying for their Masters. During the week, two cohorts of IMT and one of CMT were running, almost entirely facilitated by local staff previously trained by Janet and Ian who spent their time supervising and supporting the facilitators.  That’s a total of seven local staff in teacher/facilitator roles, plus the mentors on the CMT programme.

One of the things learnt along the way was the value and importance of having mentors for the students on CMT and having mentorship as a preparation stage for taking on a facilitator’s role.  Initial research is showing that the mentor role is highly appreciated by the students, the mentors themselves, and the facilitators. Richard Weyers’ role as Head of the British Council in the Punjab gives him oversight of the INSPIRE project that funds CLL visits.  All involved were very pleased that Richard was able to find the time to present the certificates and to see the results of the UoL-UHS collaboration under the INSPIRE project.

This work has the potential for a significant impact in the Punjab as UHS has 44 affiliated medical and dental colleges and is considering making the CMT mandatory for all new appointments once the quality systems and a sufficient group of trained facilitators are in place.  The Punjab has a population of 80 million and is the most populous and influential province in Pakistan.

This INSPIRE project is drawing to a close but there are continued links from UHS funded students coming to UoL, including a PhD and two students on the new Masters in Medical Education which is jointly run by CLL and the School of Medicine.  The project has made UoL visible in the Punjab, and nationally and further funded students are expected next year.  In addition, Janet and Ian are supporting local research projects in medical education that will lead to joint publications and conference presentations