This blog is about medical education in the US and around the world. My interest is in education research and the process of medical education.

The lawyers have asked that I add a disclaimer that makes it clear that these are my personal opinions and do not represent any position of any University that I am affiliated with including the American University of the Caribbean, the University of Kansas, the KU School of Medicine, Florida International University, or the FIU School of Medicine. Nor does any of this represent any position of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center or Northeast Georgia Health System.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The STFM Conference on Medical Student Education

Last week I had the privilege of chairing the 37th annual STFM Conference on Medical Student Education. Until 2010, the conference was known as the STFM Predoctoral Education Conference. We changed the name to the Conference on Medical Student Education. You may not know much about STFM. The Society of Teachers of Family Medicine is my academic and professional home. All of my mentors, my teachers, my peers, and my colleagues are in STFM. It is a great organization. The Conference on Medical Student Education is a premier educational meeting that includes most of the family medicine educators from around the country. 

Let me give you some highlights of the meeting. 

We started the meeting with an amazing plenary speaker. Dr Kevin Eva, Senior Scientist from the Centre for Health Education Scholarship (CHES) at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Dr Eva gave an invigorating talk about medical decision making. My favorite concept from the talk was that we have to make errors in order to get better, and maybe more importantly, we as educators have to provide safe environments that allow students to make those mistakes. His talk is posted on FMDRL.

There was a great talk by Stacy Brungardt, CAE (Executive Director of STFM) about the alphabet soup of family medicine. She described several of the organizations that make up the "family" of family medicine (AAFP, CAFM, COGME, etc...). There was an excellent peer session describing a study of teaching students about the Four Habits model of patient-centered communication, by Dr Hannah Maxfield and colleagues. (full disclosure here, Drs. Maxfield, Zaudke and Chumley are my colleaguesy at KU)

Dr. Chumley and I presented some of our data about using Artificial Neural Networks to classify students' information gathering patterns to make a diagnosis. We looked at 200 students' performance on a standardized patient case, with a 22 item checklist. We used the first 100 patients to train the ANN, and then we tested the neural network with the second 100 cases.  We found that the ANN was able to predict whether the student got the right or wrong answer/diagnosis with a 85% accuracy.  This was better than two other standard classifiers called Bayesian and KNN (K Nearest Neighbor).

There was an awesome dance party on Friday night that brought together faculty (old and young) with medical students.  

The Saturday morning plenary was by Dr Cathy Pipas from the Dartmouth medical college. Dr. Pipas is the Vice Chair of Community and Medicine. She gave a stimulating talk about the transformation of the Dartmouth practices to patient centered medical homes. The scary part of that talk was that the senior administration at Dartmouth have still not aligned the financial incentives with the clinical practices that are transforming to PCMHs.

Drs. Jana Zaudke and Hannah Maxfield presented an interesting randomized trial of giving feedback about the Four Habits model of communication after watching the students perform on a standardized patient.

On Sunday morning Dr. Joshua Freeman moderated a special session on social justice and family medicine. There's were several medical students at the session and we had a great discussion after his talk.

The final plenary for Sunday morning was Dr. Jerry Kruse. Dr. Kruse is the Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. I asked Dr. Kruse to talk about his views of health care reform. He said that there are two different and divergent views of healthcare reform and its importance to the nation's progress toward the future.  He called the passage of the health care reform bill last year, "the triumph of reason over power". Dr Kruse is famous amongst his friends for his poetry. He gave the most amazing Seussian rhyme describing the saga of Dr Michael Klein, the Canadian doctor that studied the routine use of episiotomy. Dr. Kruse gave me permission to post the lyrics of this poem for your edification. Look for it coming in a couple of days.

Dr. Kruse also presented the new COGME report, "Advancing Primary Care" and its recommendations. The most important recommendation from COGME was that the percentage of primary care physicians should be at least 40% of all physicians.

Overall, this was a great meeting.  Thanks to all of the presenters for your great work. Thanks to all the attendees, including over 200 students attending the national student-run free clinic forum. Thanks to the STFM staff for your hard work, in particular Ray Rosetta, the hardest workin' man in the conference business.  Next year, the meeting will be February 2-5, 2012 in sunny Long Beach, California. The Call for Papers opens in March, so get ready!


  1. Nice review of the conference John. Brilliant idea to post Dr Kruse's rhyme -- I will love "hearing" it again!

  2. @Angela... you have just caught my words on my mind.... and John, seriously you have done a great work by posting Dr Kruse's rhyme ... I just love it..

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