AssociaMed – Tunisia
We were magic witnesses and magic makers.
That’s how I feel about being part of the AMEE 2017 Student Taskforce. Magic happened in the hallways, in plenary’ room where more than 3000 participants from 92 countries gathered, having as a common goal, improving the medical education system, whether it is at a local, national or international level.
Magic happened in every Helsinki Messuskeskus room table, where people from different backgrounds: Policy makers, school deans, administrators, professors and teachers sat together, shared experiences and expressed thoughts.
Magic happened in every session, where students were leaders, presenting their projects, studies or researches and initiating discussions. Magic was the strong and meaningful interaction between all of those people. Magic was the small talk, the deep discussions and the constructive debates.
Magic was all around the venue and its surroundings. And as students, we weren’t only part of the audience but we were also one of the talented and passionate performers. We helped with the logistics of the event through small yet important tasks. Students were the smiley face that greets attendees and shows them their way to their sessions. Students were the helpful hand that assists facilitators and presenters through the sessions. Students were the navy blue polo who was everywhere.
Those 5 days were certainly long, exhausting and energy consuming, yet they were strangely deeply satisfying, at the same time. AMEE 2017 conference, for me, wasn’t a regular academic event, from which I will go home with nothing other than knowledge. It was way more than that. It was a unique experience where I learned, networked and especially was inspired.
So if you are a medical student, looking for one of these things, make sure that to leave a free 5 days spot on your agenda for next year’s AMEE Conference in Basel, Switzerland, because it is where you’re supposed to be, where the magic will happen.
Being a part of the student task force at the AMEE conference is an experience of its own kind. From the very beginning; the excitement of getting selected amongst 1200 applicants, to the months of online tutorship that follow to the absolutely exhilarating week of the conference itself, each step of the way is one to enjoy and learn from.
AMEE 2017 in Helsinki, Finland taught me a myriad of things. Where on one hand, I found myself physically present at the hub of the ever-evolving world of medical education and actively contributing to some of the issues that continue to perplex our teachers and curriculum designers, on another it gave me a chance to learn of the newer methods and technological advances that are shaping the future of medical education. I attended workshops capitalising the importance of SPs (Simulated Patients), EPAs (Entrust able Patient Activities) and VR (Virtual Reality) in the classroom setting. Simulation, I gathered, was the up-coming theme in medical education as also accredited by its inclusion as the fifth area in the ASPIRE award criteria for excellence.
The AMEE hackathon was the highlight of the pre-conference days; a competition that allowed medical students, computer programmers and graphic designers to collaborate and design a feasible software that could be implemented in medical schools to maximize learning opportunity. The first ever STF workshop on student empowerment offered insight into how we as students could go back home and be agents of change in our educational set-ups by identifying barriers and systematically removing them via advocacy and lobbying. Aside from the workshops, poster presentations, short communications and symposia that I got to usher and learn from, what inspired me even more were a few personal interactions that I had with some of the world” s most passionate medical educationists. The generosity with which they offered help, elaborating on career options and explaining possibilities and opportunities was amazing.
The AMEE fringe session like each year was full of entertainment and reminded us all of the importance of creativity and imagination in a medical student’s life, something that the presence of a student theater endorses. The AMEE online team had a bunch of new ideas this year and added a whole new dimension to the online coverage of the conference.
Being part of the taskforce, where we were to work as a team, look out for each other, help each other, attend de-briefs together and have progress updates with our tutor groups, we eventually became like a family and made some meaningful friendship bonds and memories to cherish forever. In a nutshell, the AMEE 2017 allowed for a student like me to grow on multiple levels and added further clarity into my vision of improving medical education in my home country.
The first time I was accepted to attend the AMEE conference, was a bitter sweet kind of feeling. Sweet because it was an exciting opportunity to build myself as a change agent and medical education advocate and bitter because I really did not know what to expect and if I had anything to bring to the table in the task force.
I went in with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised. Firstly, by the student task force which happened to be my first contact in AMEE (shout out to Ugo). These were incredibly passionate medical students from all around the world each with a broad range of experiences to share . it was a good mix of regions, cultures, ideas and more importantly, efforts to BE the difference in their local settings. At least on paper, in person all of them are fun clowns!
Secondly were the sessions. It was at first intimidating sharing a table with deans and faculty reps from all over and long titles and spitting jargons such as “continuous professional development” when I was just trying to become a professional and end it at that. But in each of them it became clearer to me Why they are all there, and that was for me, a student.
The whole conference had the general theme of “How Can We Make the Student Experience in Medical School Better?” After that realisation, even the words sounded simpler. I was in a unique position where I was surrounded by a bunch of professors asking what we as students would think of this and that approach, why a certain initiative they tried has not worked and what I would recommend.
Lastly was the experiences that you cannot really express. The short conversation you had with a presenter right before the session begins, the several social programs by night that let you explore the city as well as bond with your fellow STF members, the great food that is always sandwiched between performing assigned tasks and participating in sessions, the random interactions with participants appreciating your contribution and complimenting your high spirits and most importantly the several concrete ideas you get on your role as a medical student and just how loud you can roar to make the needed changes in your medical education.
All in all, being part of the STF is an experience definitely worth having. But all that glitters… I must warn you, if you have no passion for Med Ed this conference can end up being like the feeling you get when you are surrounded by Got fans when you’re the 1% that hasn’t watched it. You have no clue that despite it being summer, winter IS here. You will be bored stiff. Another small inconvenience is you might have to sleep less than you’re used to but we can all relate.
Please apply in 2018 or if it is not for you, tell someone who you think is Storm born and can handle it (okay that’s the last Got reference, moving onto Breaking Bad) Find what you are and let it kill you- in this case Med Ed, and unlike the author of the quote, Walter White, we welcome you into our territory. The STF always has room for more students.
I finish with some random lyrics that have nothing to do with medical education but I found to be really cool. Try guess the band and hopefully we will meet in a future AMEE conference and talk about more of their songs. “Pay my respects to grace and virtue, give my condolences to good, send my regards to soul and romance, they always did the best they could. And so long to devotion, you taught me everything I know, wave goodbye, wish me well”