Emma Thomson, Deputy Head of the Department of Surgery at the University of Malawi, and Ishmael Nyirenda, Learning and Evaluation Officer at the University of Malawi's College of Medicine.
Two academics from the School of Medicine recently provided an innovative workshop in Malawi, focusing on helping health professionals at the University of Malawi develop their medical faculty.
Dr Linda Jones, Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Medical Education (CME), and Dr Neil Merrylees, Clinical Teacher at the Tayside Centre for General Practice (TCGP), held a two-day faculty development workshop for over 40 medical and health science educators at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine. The college, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, is the only government medical school in Malawi and graduates around 100 doctors each year in addition to other allied health professionals.
Dr Jones and Dr Merrylees used the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) approach to run their sessions, which encourages collaborative co-construction. Participants focused on what was already working in medical education within the College of Medicine, and explored how they could shape the faculty with the resources they had.
Speaking about the use of AI, Dr Jones said that the process had “helped build some new types of relationships, based on celebrating what our colleagues in Malawi are doing well and enabled us to tailor the two-day workshop building on their successes.”
Dr Emma Thomson, who is a paediatric surgeon and Deputy Head of the Department of Surgery at the University of Malawi, was instrumental in setting up the visit. She is currently studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education through the University of Dundee’s distance learning course.
Dr Thomson said, “I think AI is a particularly useful approach here in Malawi where we are constantly being made to focus on what we don’t have or can’t do as well as we would like to, due to lack of resources… AI helped us to think about what we do well and can achieve if we did more of the same.”
And feedback from delegates is positive, too. One participant, who is an experienced clinical teacher, has been implementing learner-centric creative techniques already. She encouraged her students to present as creatively as possible on the subject of neonatal resuscitation and said that the students had “all listened to the instructions, done the pre-reading, acquired the knowledge, worked in teams and delivered — which essentially is what being a doctor is about!” This approach also allowed the teacher to deliver her lecture to a more receptive audience, allowing her to “consolidate their personal learning”.