Emerging Concepts in Medical Education: Part 1

Let me introduce to you Elaine Van Melle.  Elaine is an education scientist affiliated with the Royal College and Queen’s University.  In this 4 part series, Elaine shares her recent survey of the (grey) literature to identify new and important themes that are influencing the design and delivery of medical education.

–  Jonathan (@sherbino)


By Elaine Van Melle (@elainevanmelle)

As most of you probably know, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RC from here on in!) is updating the CanMEDS Framework. As part of the CanMEDS 2015 project, I was asked to look at the literature for new and emerging concepts. In this blog I talk about the approach used and provide a summary of the findings. In upcoming blogs I’ll expand a bit further on each of the themes.

As I’m sure you can imagine, this was not a particularly straight forward task. I really wanted to identify new topics that might not appear if I searched using CanMEDS related terms. So I began by scanning the 2012 Table of Contents of the top five journals in medical education (as defined by impact factor) looking for common topics and themes.

Journals reviewed were as follows: Academic Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.524); Medical Education (Impact Factor: 3.176); Advances in Health Sciences Education (Impact Factor: 2.089); Teaching and Learning in Medicine (Impact Factor: 0.748); Medical Teacher (Impact Factor: .217) 

Since we were most interested in residency education, the Journal of Graduate Medical Education was also included in the scan.

So what did I find?

The following topics emerged from this review:

  • Professional self identity (including the importance of transitions)
  • Emotion as a form of competence
  • Systems thinking
  • Handover (transfer of care)
  • Global health

Subsequently, two additional topics were identified as part of a review of the Cochrane database of Systematic Reviews:

  • Developing competence in social media
  • Understanding financial incentives

Finally, as I listened to reports of the Chairs of the Expert Working Groups (for each CanMEDS Role) the topic of complexity seemed to emerge. So a final report is currently underway looking at how complexity science might inform the process of updating the CanMEDS Roles.

Some of you may be surprised that a few topics such as patient safety, interprofessional practice, patient-centered care did not make this list. I was. But then I realized that these topics have been on our radar screen now for a number of years. It is important to note though, that my work is only one small piece of a complex process informing the renewal of CanMEDS.

In future articles I’ll will expand on the topics above. Meanwhile, please feel free to provide comments or ask questions! 

Image courtesy of ddpavumba/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net