At the Rural and Remote Conference held in Saskatoon last week, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Michael Jong, MB (the 2006- 2007 President of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada.) Dr. Jong is a family physician in Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Newfoundland and graduated from medical school in 1975. To learn more about the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada go to http://www.srpc.ca/mainframe.html
Deirdre: Tell me about a teacher that inspired you.
A long time ago in Malaya where I started my medical training, the Dean told us, “It is a privilege to go to medical school, when you become a doctor you owe society for that privilege. You are the ones who will be helping society and patients.” I was young and impressionable and that message stayed with me all these years.
Deirdre: What changes have you seen in medical education since you were trained as a physician?
In the past, learners were given things to learn by their teachers. Teaching was very top down, more pedantic (I teach, you remember.) Now there is a more level playing field; students acquire knowledge from peers, books, online sites as well as from teachers. As a result, there is more of an expectation of critical thinking from the learner.
Deirdre: What changes would you like to see in medical education?
I would like to see:
more training done where the greatest medical needs are, whether that’s in a rural setting or in the inner city
more planning in medical schools to recruit rural students
a more patient-centred focus where we can demonstrate the value systems of patients, be more socially accountable and community focused
preceptors develop a team approach where students learn to work within a community, with a family
students learn to be effective change agents with the problem solving skills to sort out a community health problem.
Thank you to Dr. Jong and the planning committee for choosing Saskatoon to host their dynamic and exciting conference. I learned so much from my participation.
On March 29, 2007, I had the great pleasure to interview Dr. Tom Wilson who has been the Joint Head of the Department of Medicine for the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon Health Region since July 1, 2003. Dr Wilson graduated from medical school in 1967. He completed the Teaching Improvement Project System (TIPS) course in 1986.
1. Looking back to your training as a physician, was there a particular teacher who influenced your approach to medical education?
Dr. Alan Gilbert was an early hero of mine. He practiced Internal Medicine in Moose Jaw, and then moved to Alberta to join the Faculty of Medicine there. When he interacted with patients, he was professional yet friendly; sometimes he joked with them or used touch to reassure. He taught me the importance of really listening to patients and doing a complete physical exam before deciding what was wrong. I remember him looking at a picture of Jackie Gleason’s (The Honeymooners) palms and commenting that he probably had liver problems. Several years later Jackie Gleason died from liver cirrhosis.
I knew I wanted to be internist after having him as my teacher. He taught us through professional respect, never talked down to us and was quick to praise. He didn’t disparage us as students, but helped us see mistakes. He would fit in very well in today’s medical school.
2. What changes have you seen in medical education since you trained as a physician in the late 60’s?
a. Medical knowledge has expanded and there are medical disciplines that didn’t exist 30 years ago. The internet has made access to medical literature faster and easier to access. More and more we see medicine as a lifelong learning process, so we need to teach students how to actively involve themselves in learning.
b. It is critical to keep up to date on changes in medical education. For example, technology such as PowerPoint has changed how we teach. Faculty today have an opportunity to learn how to teach, something that wasn’t true in the past. I try to keep up to date by taking teaching courses and reading.
c. Residency has changed from slave labour to more of a learner – teacher environment.
3. What change would you like to see in medical education in the next ten years?
a. Earlier streaming for people who know what they want to do. We need a shortened, more efficient streaming process. Twelve years can be very discouraging.
b. More training in interdisciplinary teams because of the shortage of physician’s and the rising cost of health care.
c. A representative workforce
4. What area of medical education would you like to learn more about?
a. active learning
b. problem solving
c. brief bedside encounters as a method of evaluating JURSI’s and residents
I would like to thank Dr. Wilson for being the first of a series of interviews.
As of April 2007, I will be posting interviews with Department Heads and exemplary teachers once a month. The first interview will be with Dr. Thomas Wilson, the head of the Department of Medicine in Saskatoon. If you wish to suggest a faculty member to interview, please contact Deirdre Bonnycastle in the College of Medicine.