Workshop, think tank, learning group: the new educators

If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit another hospital to observe its medical education practice, you probably would expect to find a discussion around ward round learning, teaching methodology, curriculum in practice etc. However, this was anything but the case in my recent visit to St Mary's Hospital, London.

I was invited to observe a lunchtime lab meeting in practice. Whilst the premise is to discuss educational projects, issues and systems and ways of improving these, what emerged was a dynamic think tank of creative and cognitive thinking.

There was a mixture of consultants from various specialties, and doctors of various levels (fellow, registrar, junior doctors, a GP) and a coordinator of a patient/community engagement programme in the mix. It was refreshing to see the way each presented their project and the collaborative and respectful way in which others workshopped this idea, bringing different viewpoints, experiences and perspectives to a great discussion.

Through my educationalist lens, this was so much more than simply a research discussion activity. Teaching and learning was at the forefront, with a consultant explicitly identifying points throughout to harness educational value. This is rare in hospital education, in my experience, as service provision so often takes priority and education is often sidelined as a result.

We know from the literature that adults learn best when they are motivated, challenged, see value and are actively involved. The lab meeting epitomised this – the group dynamically engaged in a highly practical and creative approach to learning. They sorted out problems, learned from each other and brought a vibrant cross-pollination of ideas into their ‘community of practice’. Thanks so much to Mando Watson and Bob Klaber and all in the group for inviting me to be a part of this great educational hub.

Helen Enright
Teaching and Learning Co-ordinator the Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne