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; MRCS, LRCP, 1980) registered with the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic I have reactivated my licence to practise and I am providing telephone support to vulnerable elderly to assist them during the pandemic. I remain active as a Clinical Medical Educationist participating in a number of projects with the universities of St Mary’s and Dalhousie in Nova Scotia and Mount Allison in New Brunswick, inter alia, and separately with three of the veterinary schools in the UK. My focus is on teaching and research in professionalism, ethics, and communications, and particularly the influences of vernacular architecture on the creation of positive learning experiences in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. I have the degree of Master in Public Health from the University of London (1985) and the degree of Master 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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