Who is writing this drivel?

Who the heck am I and what right do I have to post this website?

Good question; perhaps none.

Big BubbleCreative Commons License Hartwig HKD via Compfight

Ron Ireland. Temples turning grey, thinning on top. Married to Shelley, my senior office nurse. 3 kids, 2 in university, one trying to stay in high school while playing volleyball. Crazy chocolate lab.

UWO BSc biology 1982, UWO MD 1986, McMaster CCFP 1988, FCFP years (?) later, Concordia Portland M.Ed 2013. Family doc, semi- rural group practice in Niagara, Ontario, currently a FHO, hospital privileges, associated with McMaster (renamed the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine in 2004) as an associate (or am I an assistant? I can never keep it straight) clinical professor of family med. Which means I usually have a clerk, intern, or resident with me.

Whoops! Showing my age! There used to be “PAIRO.” The Professional Association of Interns and Residents of Ontario. Now it’s “PARO”. Interns don’t exist. OK.

Are they still called “clinical clerks”? Maybe it’s “pre-grad year 1, 2, 3 or 4.” Of course, that could be misleading. Is a pre-grad year 1 more senior, or a year 4? Anyway…

That last one, that M.Ed, is a Masters of Education in curriculum and instruction, “methods and curriculum”. Now what was I doing getting that? After 27 years in practice? I’ve been teaching since year 2 of medical school, just like every other member of our trade. Second years teach first, right? (Sorry, pre-grad year…2?) I’ve had medical students from every year, interns, residents from R2-5. My teaching has been clinic based. I have never taught in a classroom.

There’s the rub. Some retirement teaching opportunities are largely classroom based, some traditionally didactic. I wanted a theoretical background upon which to build teaching skills. I also wanted architectural plans.

I think I got what I was looking for. Plans, that is, some general blueprints of what my program brochure describes as, “best practices in instructional theory and application.”  I’ve walked into a new landscape, and along the way received formal instruction in action research, which physicians are now being encouraged to complete in Ontario’s Quality Improvement Projects or “QIPs”.

Medical education must change, evolve, just as medicine is evolving. Things are starting to move, but we are missing a great opportunity. Medicine has embraced evidence based assessment and decision making on the ward, and in the clinic. However, much of our teaching is done as it always has been done. We teach much as our teachers taught. New forays into small group learning are taking root, which is in essence trying to pull classroom teaching into a more real, clinical, problem solving format, where we can teach where we’re simply better at it, as clinicians. There are noises that lectures are obsolete, behind the times, dinosaurs from another epoch. And yet, we still have them. Medical students are still bludgeoned with fire hose lectures, and inundated with unreasonable reading assignments. Practising physicians go to rounds often very reminiscent of their medical school lectures.


What’s the opportunity?

Teachers are scientists, too. Social scientists. These professionals have developed a science, of teaching. They are becoming more and more evidence based, and use evidence to change teaching strategies, just as we use evidence to change the way we treat patients.

Here we have a resource. These social scientists can not only teach us how to do QIPs, they can help us evolve our teaching strategies.

If we have the heart to listen. A lot of us have been trained a bias against social science, and the qualitative study. If we don’t get beyond this, we and our patients will never fully realize the potential behind the QIP (quality improvement project, or plan).

By looking beyond the walls of our own profession, we can learn to teach better. And be better docs.

You can use this form to contact me.

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