EDGE Highlight of the Week – An Insider’s Perspective

By Eve Purdy (@purdy_eve)

Editor’s note: EDGE is a weekly educators faculty development meeting at the Gold Coast University Hospital. This piece, and a complementary blog written by Dan Pratt [appearing Tuesday, November 2] , touch on what makes it special. Together, you will get both an insider and outsider’s perspective on this weekly meeting.

“What was your educational highlight of the week?”

I never thought a single question could be a ritual. I was wrong.

Over a few years of participating in a Thursday morning meeting, Educators Get Educated (EDGE), I have experienced how this single question can come to define a community of practice, shape the values of a group, facilitate belonging, and become a touchstone for individuals seeking meaning amongst the noise that has come to define busy tertiary healthcare delivery.

First, a little about EDGE.

This meeting started at Gold Coast University Hospital by Victoria Brazil in 2017 as a simple coming together of emergency medicine faculty and education registrars/fellows. It had a couple of expressed purposes. Practically, EDGE served as a time for the team to touch base before the busy schedule of departmental education activities slated for Thursdays. It also served as an opportunity for faculty development – a chance to explore educational theories and literature together. Structurally, participants receive an email at the beginning of the week with the topic, some resources, and discussion questions. At the beginning of each session participants introduce themselves and describe their “educational highlight of the week”. Then the group dives into rich discussion related to the topic of interest. Often it feels like the hour is over before it even started.

At first, this small group of emergency medicine educators met regularly but then quite quickly something interesting happened. More and more people just started showing up. First it was the sim team, then it was a random surgeon, then some nurse educators, next a rheumatologist, then a collection of midwives. Somewhere along the way, Dan Pratt became a virtual regular tuning in from Vancouver. Yes…THE Dan Pratt. On any given Thursday there are about 10-20 people from various departments and backgrounds who come to EDGE in person or join virtually. Often, we host international guests whose work is related to the topic of the week. It is an endlessly surprising pleasure to experience the dynamic melange. It turns out, if you build it, they will come.

But what exactly have we built?

As an anthropologist, who also participates in EDGE, I find myself reflecting on this question often. I have been involved in many forms of professional development that on paper seem similar. For example, in journal club we spend an hour reviewing different methods and discuss the latest evidence. But EDGE feels different to these other experiences. Why?

I am convinced that it all comes down to that first question, “what was your educational highlight of the week?” This simple start to the session pushes individuals to reflect on what they were involved in and asks them to commit to something that mattered most. My commute on Thursday mornings is often spent pondering what I will share. In doing so I take stock. I sometimes smile at success but also find myself thinking critically about whether I met my own expectations. I imagine others do the same. In the room, this question connects the community. We experience cross-pollination in these musings. For example, this past week an obstetrician reflected on an ED advanced supervisory skills course where she was asked to be a guest presenter. She offered appreciation to the ED education fellow who coordinated the event. Then she reflected on how it could be translated into her own context and why she felt that was important. At first, I thought the meeting was the ritual but now I realize the simple question is.

As you might imagine, as the community grows, the greater time it takes to go around the room sharing in each other’s educational highlights. But Vic has not wavered on the importance of doing so. Occasionally we end up sacrificing the time allocated for the topic hand. It doesn’t really matter. The energy, connection, sense of purpose, enhanced relationships, and sheer delight that comes from reflecting on what we do well pushes this diverse and growing team even further towards the edge of what is possible. After all, you want to have something good to share when you return next week and get asked,

“What was your educational highlight of the week?”

Participating in this ritual, answering this simple question, is what EDGE is all about. I encourage you to give it a try in your own educational circles soon!

Don’t miss the complementary post, written by Dan Pratt – coming this Tuesday, November 2nd!