How did we get here?
When the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching published Abraham Flexner’s report in 1910, there were eight medical schools in Canada and 155 medical schools in the United States, many of which no longer exist. The University of Alberta did not yet have a Faculty of Medicine; it was not established until 1913.
Some history of medical education might be useful in understanding the long path to the IDEAS Office. It was in 1954 that Dr. George Miller a physician and faculty member at the University of Buffalo got interested in teaching. He requested funding so that eight physicians could work for a year with educators. Dr. Stephen Abrahamson was one of those educators who continued well beyond this project to be one of the pioneers of medical education. He described himself as an “educationist” bringing clinicians and educators together. He felt that there “must be a collaboration between the faculty member who identifies the problem(s) and the educationist who brings the basic principles of teaching and learning and the basic concepts of education which can be tested and demonstrated.” This is one of the primary purposes of the IDEAS Office, bringing health practitioners and “educationists” together for collaboration to innovate and study problems in the health professions.
Around this same time, our own Dr. J. Alan Gilbert joined the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine in the Department of Medicine. In 1966, he became the Chair of the Committee for Research in Medical Education within the Faculty and later the President of the International Society for Research in Medical Education in 1973.
It was in the 1960s that the field of medical education began to flourish and one begins to see a large jump in the number of publications in various health professions educational fields. In 1971, Dr. Howard Barrows joined the Faculty of Medicine at McMaster University where he developed problem-based learning, which added a whole new dimension to how we conceptualize curricular models and teaching methods. In addition, it led to a plethora of publications, for example, a 2017 PubMed search using the MeSH term “problem-based learning” resulted in 6,842 publications.
We hope that the IDEAS Office will be a mechanism to help move the field of health professions educational scholarship forward by standing on the shoulders of the giants of medical education who went before us.
References you might find helpful in understanding the pioneering work of medical educators:
- Flexner Report (PDF).
- Simpson DE, Bland CJ. Stephen Abrahamson, PhD, ScD, educationist: a stranger in a kind of paradise. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2002;7(3):223-34.
- Irby DM, Wilkerson L. Charles W. Dohner, PhD: an evaluator and mentor in medical education. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2003;8(1):63-73.
- Anderson WA, Harris IB. Arthur S. Elstein, PhD: skeptic, scholar, teacher and mentor. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2003;8(2):173-82.
- Wilkerson L, Anderson WA. Hilliard Jason, MD, EdD: a medical student turned educator. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2004;9(4):325-35.
- Harris IB, Simpson D. Christine McGuire: t the heart of the maverick measurement maven. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2005;10(1):65-80.
- Bland CJ, Irby DM. Frank T. Stritter, PhD: educationist: teacher, coach and researcher. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2005;10(2):157-67.