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New trends in the teaching of medicine – AMEE is here

At the end of August the international AMEE conference of medical teaching and training will take place in Finland for the first time in its history.

Around 4000 participants from 90 different countries are expected to take part in the conference at the Messukeskus Expo and Convention Centre in Helsinki. This year’s theme is “The Power to Surprise”, so participants are in for quite an experience.

Professor Minna Kaila, the chairperson of the local organising committee, explains why the AMEE conference is worth attending.

– Participants get a brilliant understanding of what is going on with the research on teaching, and what results there are. There will also be workshops where people can try out brand new, as yet unpublished teaching methods. Good examples for giving lectures, being interactive and using images, humour and music will be presented. And with the theme being “The Power to Surprise”, surprises can also be expected. Intense interaction and fine evening events… In the end, the greatest part is, of course, making new acquaintances and strenghtening old ties, peer support and peer learning, information exchange, human interaction between people who work with similar joys and challenges.

In what ways are we forerunners in Finland?

– Usually there have been approximately 70 Finnish participants – this year we are looking at a number four times that, seeing that there are more than 400 Finns attending. This is, first of all, a sign of the respect that there is for skills in teaching, and also of the motivation for continued professional education and development. In Finland e-learning clearly is at a good level.

What can Finland offer to the world – and the other way around: what can Finns learn from the world?

– Organising the conference has progressed in a very upbeat fashion and in collaboration with a range of different parties. There has been a great deal of enthusiasm which is also reflected in the attendance numbers. Finns now need to make use of this opportunity in all ways possible, so that we can further improve the teaching of medicine in this country. With a group of people as big as this, the opportunities are good. The conference’s programme consists of nearly 150 pages, and the abstract book has almost 900 pages. There are sessions taking place simultaneously and others happening one after another. There is an extra chance to take part in AMEE the weekend before the actual conference, at the 4th Faculty Development conference. And also after the conference, the Interprofessional Skills Training Symposium will take place in Tampere.

What is the current trend in the teaching of medicine? Is there a known method which is particularly effective?

– Online materials are truly a big question, and e-learning in general and how it is best used. What it is good for, who it is suitable for,  how it is combined with the kind of teaching where you are physically present, or classroom teaching. How does e-learning enable, for example, group work and information sharing and exchange in old and new ways. How can you learn how to be a doctor, a dentist, a nurse, a physiotherapist online – how do you learn health care professions online? What do we know about this, what new results has research provided regarding this matter? There is a lot of hype about this – what about the proof?

– In the flipped classroom method you study online materials beforehand, and maybe even take a test, after which, through classroom teaching, questions are asked and there are discussions based on the knowledge already gained. Smart phone applications and mobile learning in general are now used together with traditional ways of learning. There is a lot of research still to be done and we are yet to receive information regarding the effectiveness of these methods. The researchers at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Helsinki are in a wonderful position in this regard, as already for the fifth year all new students receive an iPad when they start their studies.

– Those dealing with specialist training are interested in CBME (Competency Based Medical Education), a “skill based” type of training which is both training based on competence and an assessment in one package. It pays off to also become familiar with the concept of EPA (Entrustable Professional Activities).

– Specialist training is being reformed, and one of the central ideas is to stop measuring skills by time, and instead assessing the level of skills achieved. You would therefore become a specialist doctor after learning the required skills, not after having worked for five or six years.

Which topic in the teaching of medicine should absolutely everyone hear about?

– I want to bring up a serious but extremely important issue to do with studying: stress, studying risks and protective factors. What is known about the students of medicine and about students in other fields? Illness, prevalance of illness, mental health problems, substance abuse? Are there ways to improve patient safety in those very rare cases where there is a threat? And above all, what models and methods are there in use elsewhere to recognise those who are getting into trouble, those encountering difficulties with studying, and then, how to support and help them go on?

AMEE’s local organisation committee’s chairperson, professor Minna Kaila


Similarly to before, the conference starts already on Friday the 25th of August, with the 4th Faculty Development pre-conference with its numerous workshops from the 25th until the 26th of August, at Messukeskus, Helsinki. The post-conference, Interprofessional Skills Training Symposium, is organised in Tampere and will take place from the 31st of August until the 1st of September 2017.

At department S9 of the AMEE exhibition you will get to familiarise yourself with the work that Duodecim, Lääkäriliitto (The Finnish Medical Association) and ProMedico (The Association for Medical Continuous Professional Development in Finland do to promote the teaching and learning of medicine.

Check the programme and also register here at the AMEE (An International Association for Medical Education) website.

If you are unable to attend the AMEE conference, you can follow the event here.

You can follow the conference via social media using the hashtag #amee2017.

For more information, please contact our Education Manager Juha Pekka Turunen, +358 9 6188 5217, The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim.