Tag Archives: Medical education

Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Medical Education in Punjab

Drs Janet Strivens and Ian Willis from the Centre for Lifelong Learning have recently returned from Lahore, Pakistan where they were continuing the work of ‘Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Medical Education in Punjab’, Pakistan.

This was originally a British Council funded project and is now funded through Pakistan’s ‘Visiting International Scholars’ scheme. The project is based in the University of Health Sciences Lahore (UHS), which controls the assessment of most of the medical and dental colleges in Punjab. This gives them significant influence over the teaching practices of 40 affiliated institutions and so developments at UHS can spread throughout the province.

The project is becoming genuinely locally owned and sustainable. The focus this time was the Certificate in Medical Teaching – our development programme for teachers in medical and dental education. It concentrates on student-centred learning and on developing local skills in mentoring and facilitation.

We were there for a week, and in that time UHS had organised three classes running concurrently over four days and a further three concurrent classes in the following three days, with a total of 146 students. At one stage we needed 11 rooms for mini-presentations; so an organisational marvel. Plus we had Dr Shazia Iqbal, who has just completed her MSc in Medical Education at UoL, recounting her experiences – both academic and cultural – whilst in Liverpool and Dr Masood Jawaid’s workshops on Technology Integrated Learning in resource-poor countries. This was a treat in terms of how to use technology when institutions don’t have the learning technologists or strategies for using technology. We heard case studies from resourceful staff and a plethora of open source software in use in different parts of Pakistan in order to meet the same learning aims we have in the UK with all our facilities and skilled support.

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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.

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Self-Directed Learning in Health Programmes

Last week a multidisciplinary group of health professionals gathered in the School of Health Sciences to explore how clinical placement practice enables and encourages students to become Self-Directed Learners.  A third-year student group also participated sharing their perceptions and experience of this learning approach.

The University hosts this annual CPD event, which is co-ordinated by the School of Health Sciences Practice Placement Working Group. The event is for Practice Educators, Clinical Tutors, Mentors and Practice Education Facilitators, who work with Health Sciences colleagues to mentor, support and assess Health Sciences students when they are on placement in clinical practice across the region.

We started by considering key principles, characteristics and frameworks of Self-Directed Learning.   Implications for academic practice included an exploration of learning activities and assessment practice, facilitated by Elspeth McLean, Staff Development Office and Jaye McIsaac, Educational Developer. The session was well received and evaluated by a group of engaged and enthusiastic participants, who said they enjoyed the focus of the presentations, the contributions of the students, and the opportunities for discussion of key issues with colleagues and students. This is a good example of how the University can develop and share good practice, learning from our wider educational communities, impacting programme design and practice.

Working with Pakistani colleagues to improve learning and teaching: the Masters in Health Professionals Education group

In October, Janet Strivens and Ian Willis from the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Lifelong Learning returned to the University of Health Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan as part of the ongoing British Council funded INSPIRE project that aims to ‘enhance learning and teaching in medical education in the Punjab’.

We had two real gains as part of the project; two programmes were approved by UHS’s Board of Advanced Studies.  The first is the Certificate in Medical Teaching.  This course is designed to support relatively new lecturers in medial education. It is based on programmes in Centre for Lifelong Learning and was designed with local Pakistani staff to ensure it was suitable for the local context.

Second, the Masters in Health Professions Education was also approved.  This is intended for more experienced staff and again was based on University of Liverpool programmes with local input, in this case also influenced by University of Maastricht experience in medical education.

As the Inspire project is entering its final year, sustainability and local ownership was central to our efforts on this visit.  We are very fortunate to be working with skilled and enthusiastic local staff.  For the Certificate in Medical Teaching two local staff played a big part in delivering the programme whilst six more staff observed with a view to facilitating the programme in the future.

We hope that our final visits will be taken up with supporting these colleagues and putting in place quality systems rather than ‘just’ teaching.  Similarly, the Masters in Health Professions Education now has Professor Majeed Chaudhry as programme director with two other local staff contributing. Whilst these developments represent real progress, there are always challenges!  Supporting structures at UHS, namely the Department of Medical Education, is seriously understaffed and recruiting suitably qualified staff is really difficult.  There are few people in Pakistan trained to Masters level in Medical Education and very, very few at PhD level.  We are also looking to enhance the use of technology to support learning.

The technical infrastructure is good and UHS has a Moodle VLE platform.  However, the role of educational technologist is unknown and so again difficult to get authorisation to recruit (a national not local process) and harder to find suitable applicants. We also started a ‘Researchers Group’ with the intention of supporting teaching staff to research and evaluate their practice. Early days but ten enthusiastic teachers and some good ideas, many centred on getting student feedback, which is not part of the teaching culture and seen as a threat by some staff. So not only are there issues of supporting this kind of small scale research at a distance but also of getting it accepted in some of the colleges.

As always, it has been great working with the staff and good to feel that we are contributing to locally owned developments.

Ian Willis & Janet Strivens