Congratulations to Jack Whiting on achieving Highly Commended in the 2019 Zeshan Qureshi Award for Outstanding Achievement in Medical Education.
My interest in medical education was kickstarted by my introduction to widening participation (WP) at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS). I’ve discovered a passion and motivation for enabling young people from non-traditional backgrounds, like myself, to make competitive applications to study medicine. I’ve mentored on the nationally recognised BrightMed programme since 2014 and have helped over 500 students. I’ve taken the lead on delivering existing full day teaching interventions, as well as designing and delivering my own sessions, including a neurology themed escape room, with students taking on the role of neurology FY1s, to increase their knowledge, but also decrease their fear of neuroscience. I also designed an academic attainment and aspiration raising session built around the digestive system for year 10 participants. This was linked to the national curriculum, and involved creating a gastroenterology walkthrough (conversion of the BSMS teaching building into a full GI tract – think Rick and Morty Anatomy Park!) and clinical application stations, enabling learners to develop their GI system knowledge, but also apply it as if they were medical students in a clinical setting.
I have also supported attainment and aspiration raising of learners age 6-12 as part of BSMS primary outreach initiatives and work with the Universities of Brighton and Sussex’s WP teams. This has required an ability to adapt my facilitation style to young people of all ages. With the development and delivery of these activities, I’ve displayed good pedagogical understanding, and am able to elicit ideas and opinions from young people on complex themes by offering enthusiastic encouragement and asking probing questions.
For my commitment and contribution to the BrightMed programme, I was awarded the National Education Opportunities Student of the Year Award in 2018, recognising my innovative practice in WP, and the impact of my work. Credit was also given for the challenges I myself have overcome to get to get to my position as an educator – I come from a WP background myself, attending an underperforming school in rural Wiltshire, where I was exposed to comparatively poor education, and was in receipt of free school meals throughout my education. During my 3rd year I became seriously unwell, requiring emergency surgery. While difficult to continue my medical education commitments, I maintain that my love of medical education was one of the things which helped me through such a challenging time in my life.
My passion for medical education has grown and developed over the past 6 years, leading me to complete an MSc in Medical Education during my intercalation year. This has allowed me to apply newfound understanding of pedagogical principles to my teaching, making my sessions much more valuable for learners. I was able to complete a SWOT analysis of myself as an education, as well as create a personal development plan and a detailed portfolio of my teaching. Using the Academy of Medical Educators professional standards I critically appraised my teaching and made meaningful and genuine improvements – in particular I focused on the planning of my sessions, a previous weakness of mine. I did this by ensuring effective communication with learners prior to sessions to identify objectives, before using a diary to clearly plan out a series of sessions following key ‘golden threads’. As a result of completing this portfolio and degree, I am now eligible for Membership of the Academy of Medical Educators, which I will receive upon graduation in July.
My MSc degree also allowed for one my most significant contributions to outreach and WP at BSMS; my thesis explored the role that medical students can play as mentors in WP programmes, and the attributes and qualities required for them to be effective. This utilised qualitative research into the thoughts, feelings and experiences of BrightMed mentees and mentors, to discover what makes the best kind of WP mentor, and has helped to inform the teaching mentor recruitment and selection processes at BSMS, and is still in use today. I used the findings from this research to build and deliver a training session for new BSMS teaching mentors using role play, shadowing and feedback workshops, and followed this up with a further research project into the effectiveness of this programme, using the medical education research skills I developed during my MSc. I found that my training programme was useful for new mentors, especially those who were nervous, or new to WP, significantly improving their performance and facilitation style, and thus the experience of learners. As a result, my training programme has been adopted by the BSMS outreach team, and is still used for every new intake of teaching mentors.
Outside of WP, I am heavily involved with the learning of current BSMS students. I was the South East representative for the Junior Association for the Study of Medical Education (JASME) for two years, and used this role to organise a number of medical education events at BSMS. I was also the President of the BSMS arm of the Association for Medical Education and Clinical Skills (AMECS) society, organising near peer medical and clinical teaching for undergraduates throughout the BSMS course, and have since remained as committee advisor. These roles involved organisation of teachers, design and delivery of sessions, and accumulation and action upon feedback. Alongside this, I worked with a small near-peer group using role play, technology enhanced learning, and whiteboard sessions to help them with key areas in the curriculum. I am also interested in the role that comics can play in medical education, as a long term user of comics for reflection myself. I have published a paper on the role that comics can play in reflection in medical education which has been well received internationally, and I hope will make a positive contribution to the medical education decision making with regards to reflection, particularly in the UK. I have also presented at national and international medical education conferences, including ASME ASM and the Trans European Pedagogic Anatomy Research Group (TEPARG), and have also presented and advised at Medical Schools Council Selection Alliance meetings.