Four FAIMER Institute Fellows played prominent roles at the 6th Biennial Conference of the Asia-Pacific Association on Problem-Based Learning in Health Sciences (APA-PHS), which took place October 15-16, 2008, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. Debra Sim (PHIL 2007), Professor at the University of Malaya, served on the conference organizing committee as Co-Chair, and Christina Tan (PHIL 2005), Director of the Medical Education & Research Development Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, served as Secretary. Both were also members of the APA-PHS Executive Committee, along with Nor Azila Mohd Adnan (PHIL 2002), Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Malaya. Vanessa Burch (PHIL 2001), Associate Professor, Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and Co-Director of the Southern Africa-FAIMER Regional Institute, contributed as a plenary speaker on the subject of assessment.
The theme of the APA-PHS conference was Problem Based Learning (PBL): Challenges and Opportunities. Approximately 170 health professionals attended the event and 80 registered for pre-conference workshops. Participants represented more than 15 countries, with most coming from India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The conference was noteworthy for increasing the involvement of health professionals from disciplines outside of medical education, including dentistry, pharmacy, and nursing.
One important outcome from the conference was the creation of a list-serve on PBL with further plans to develop it into an electronic forum similar to FAIMER’s Mentoring and Learning Web (ML-Web) discussion forum. The hope is that this forum will facilitate participants’ sharing of PBL expertise and resources and spread the PBL philosophy to a wider audience in the Asia-Pacific region.