Fifteen Directors and faculty of FAIMER’s Regional Institutes (FRIs) and five staff members from FAIMER’s Education department gathered August 26–28, 2009, in Malaga, Spain, for the 3rd annual DAFFRI meeting. This year’s site was chosen to provide the attendees with an opportunity to participate in the Association for Medical Education in Europe’s (AMEE) 2009 international conference for medical educators, which took place immediately after the meeting. A large majority of the DAFFRI participants also contributed to AMEE 2009 with poster presentations, short communications, or as panel discussants.
The theme of the DAFFRI meeting, “FAIMER Regional Institutes: Progress, Growth, and Innovation,” was chosen to highlight the substantial developments that have occurred since the first FRI was introduced in Mumbai, India, in 2005, and to give each of the five current programs a forum for sharing creative ideas and lessons learned.
The distinctive situation, character, and accomplishments of each FRI were highlighted in initial presentations by the Directors, which led, in turn, to the identification of common successes and challenges. Day 1 featured topical discussions in small groups to address these common issues. All of the FRIs were represented in each group. Day 2 included work in teams organized by geographical area to create five-year visions for the FRI programs in Africa, India, and Latin America. Following up on all this work, the final afternoon was devoted to convening interest groups on cross-cutting ideas in areas with high potential for future collaboration and cross-fertilization among the programs, such as research, scholarship, evaluation, and faculty development.
In August 2007, the Directors and key faculty members of FAIMER’s five Regional Institutes came together in Philadelphia for the first time for a five-day Directors and Faculty of FAIMER Regional Institutes (DAFFRI) program that included strategic planning activities and teaching skills development sessions. One of the outcomes of this meeting was a decision and an action plan to provide further faculty development opportunities in the regions. The first realization of this goal took place in December 2007 at Christian Medical College, Ludhiana (CMCL) in India.
Director of the CMCL-FAIMER Regional Institute, Tejinder Singh, and his team initially planned a one-day workshop to provide opportunities for teaching practice and constructive feedback to session presenters from the faculties of any of the FAIMER Regional Institutes in India. However, the idea generated so much interest that the format was expanded to give other faculty who had not previously been exposed to a FAIMER program an opportunity to participate. A total of 33 faculty members from six medical schools enrolled in the workshop, 11 of whom presented teaching practice sessions on topics from the regional institute curriculum over the course of two days.
Throughout the sessions, presenters made deliberate attempts to showcase a number of adult learning principles and interactive teaching techniques. Methods employed included a variety of discussions, role-plays, and group work formats. The scope of the feedback covered not only the presentation skills of the session leader but also the syllabus, reading materials, and visual aids that accompanied the presentation.
Director Tejinder Singh commented that he was particularly impressed by the superb time management that characterized the execution of the program, as it finished exactly on time at the end of the second day. According to Tejinder, this remarkable achievement had nothing to do with the planned shopping excursion immediately following the workshop. The event was such a great success that CMCL is already planning an encore faculty development workshop for the spring of 2008.
In mid-August, FAIMER welcomed to Philadelphia the Directors and key faculty members from all five of FAIMER’s Regional Institutes in Brazil, India, and Southern Africa. Twenty-three representatives from the Regional Institutes joined eight FAIMER staff and consultants to convene the first ever “DAFFRI” workshop: an intensive five-day program designed to create opportunities for all participants to develop mutual understanding of the common values and needs of FAIMER Regional Institutes, contribute to crafting a shared vision and strategy for future development and sustainability, enhance their knowledge and skills as educators, and build an active, supportive global network of FAIMER Regional Institute stakeholders.
The program, entitled “Strengthening and Sustaining Regional Institutes: Vibrant Communities for Education and Health,” combined an “Appreciative Inquiry” planning process facilitated by FAIMER Institute Co-Director Page Morahan with knowledge building sessions on adult learning theory led by Bill Burdick, FAIMER Institute Co-Director and Associate Vice President for Education. Both were accompanied in presenting by Stewart Mennin, a health professions education consultant who has also served as an international faculty member at FAIMER Regional Institutes in India and Brazil.
A high-point of the program was a lively “Interactive Presence” workshop in which stage actor and arts educator Mary Beth Scallen guided participants in a series of exercises that raised their awareness of their own behaviors in the classroom and encouraged them to consciously use their own behaviors as teaching tools. This was followed by opportunities for all to practice interactive teaching techniques in presentation and feedback sessions.
Participants are now following up on action plans generated by “concept teams” in the workshop. The action plans address priority areas such as program development, faculty development, sustainability, standard operating procedures, and evaluation.
(posted September 24, 2007, updated September 28, 2007)