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Paediatrician Veerle Langenhorst gathers some thoughts about his current PGCert in TEBHC experience.

Why would anyone in their early fifties consider getting involved in a 1 year online learning course? There are so many things you could possibly choose to do to re-calibrate and get fresh ideas during mid-life! Think of sailing around the world, starting to play the saxophone and finally joining a jazz band or starting a meditation course in Tibet…

Working as a paediatrician in the Netherlands for almost 20 years, I have been involved in the development and implementation of EBM in our paediatric practice. We described our experiences in 2018 in a BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine publication: Implementing evidence-based medicine in a busy general hospital department: results and critical success factors. So when I started to inform some peers about my interest in starting this Post Graduate Certificate in Teaching Evidence Based Health Care their first reaction was ‘why you? You are such an experienced teacher, what more are you going to learn?’.

This sums it up: ‘see one, do one, teach one’ seems to be the motto. Could it be that we are unconsciously (in)competent? Anyhow, I thought I could try it out and if there weren’t many new challenges at least I would spend a few weeks in lovely Oxford and meet people interested in teaching EBM from all over the world!

So far I think this has been a great experience – it’s about:

  • Critically reflecting on teaching techniques I have always used; not necessarily changing them but becoming more conscious about them and reflecting on their (dis)advantages
  • Aims and objectives; what’s the difference? Objectives are doable. Is knowing doable? Getting more conscious about doing objectives.
  • Teaching perspectives and learning styles; what is the evidence behind it?
  • Where to look for evidence in Medical Education and how to appraise this?
  • What does ‘there is no evidence for learning styles’ actually mean? Do they not exist or is there no evidence for adjusting your teaching style to somebody’s learning style?
  • Are questionnaires about teaching perspectives and learning styles validated, and what is validity in this field? The field of psychometric sciences is fundamentally different from our medical field.
  • Learning thresholds; the fact that I feel more and more uncomfortable not understanding ‘the language’ (the language used in the educational world and psychometric sciences) is part of the criteria for learning thresholds…

I am in the middle of a great experience and the door is open to new perspectives in the field of medical education. I’ve learnt that getting out of your comfort zone is challenging and painful at times, but sharing this with a multicultural group is of great additional value!

So when you think you’re there in your career: shake it up and re-calibrate.

Veerle Langenhorst: Paediatrician, Isala Hospital, Zwolle, The Netherlands