Small steps on a long road


My work in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) has progressed well as regards the independent projects in the MD program. In my experience these projects have enabled learners to show their autonomy in research projects with mentorship from faculty who respect the learners and do not view them as providing an inexpensive resource to support faculty research. My examples include critical appraisal of the literature regarding health improvements through social accountability activities and separately, evaluating the effectiveness of medical education initiatives for learning about social accountability.

Some of this work links to the recent Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME); see:

The work on evaluating the MUN Faculty’s progress towards achieving the standards of excellence in student engagement can be summarised by the phrase “small steps on a long road”. Many people say fine words about their commitment to the principles and practices of student engagement especially when there are awards or prizes involved but delivery on those words is problematic. Pierre Bourdieu would recognise the situation through the reproduction of all the forms of capital – cultural, social, economic, and environmental – that impede the achievement of excellence.

There are parallels with the situation as regards social accountability but there has been more progress towards achieving the standards of excellence.

As for achieving standards of excellence in assessment, there are many more steps to be taken.

More positively, there have been good outcomes from the medical education and communications research; see

Also, the community health research has been productive with a publication –
Neal, R.D., Robbé, I.J., Lewis, M., Williamson, I., & Hanson, J. (2014) The complexity and difficulty of diagnosing lung cancer: findings from a national primary care study in Wales. Primary Health Care Research & Development, in press;
online publication: doi:10.1017/S1463423614000516



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About Iain Robbe

I am a medical practitioner (MB, BS, 1980) registered with the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom without a licence to practice. I am now in practice as a Clinical Medical Educationist partly through my links with Memorial University, Newfoundland where I have an appointment as a Clinical Assistant Professor (part-time); and with the Centre for Medical Education, Dundee University where I have an appointment as an Outwith Clinical Tutor (part-time).

Also, I have links with the seven UK veterinary schools particularly for undergraduate and post graduate teaching and research in professionalism, ethics, communications, and using the arts and humanities in veterinary education.

I have a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of London (1985) and a Master’s degree in Medical Education with distinction from the University of Wales (2001).

The guiding principles in my practices are based on andragogy and humanism, and the prime ethical principle of autonomy for the individual and in population health.

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