Oxford’s Teaching EBM course: a landmark in my EBM education

December 17, 2018

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Medical education has changed significantly over the last 30 years. Having graduated from medical school in 1992, I was trained back when the clinician´s experience was the primary guidance to clinical decision-making. Teaching was essentially performed by physicians who espoused their knowledge and experience to mostly passive students.

In 1999 I started my journey as a professor of Internal Medicine and Intensive Care at Petrópolis Medical School in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As a young teacher I was very concerned about transferring content, but doing so in a way that engaged my students. So in the early 2000s, I attended a latu sensu post-graduate course in Medical Education at Federal University of São Paulo. It brought me invaluable knowledge and triggered new critical thinking and an enhanced passion about teaching.

A lack of formal training in Evidence-Based Medicine emerged as one of the flaws of my medical education, and I realized that it could greatly affect my teaching career (and clinical practice). Improving my knowledge of Evidence-Based Medicine became a professional goal. And it was a one-way ticket.

I attended several useful training courses and workshops. In 2013, I applied successfully for an MSc in Evidence-Based Healthcare at Universidade Federal de São Paulo. Pursuing more knowledge in the field, in 2016, I attended the “Publication School” course from Equator Network at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. It was at this course I saw the “Teaching Evidence-Based Medicine” (TEBM) advertisement from Oxford’s Centre of Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM). The next year I was at the 2017 TEBM course (that’s me in the front row with the white jumper).

Apart from the excellent content, the course brought me new insights in how to engage students through the use of effective teaching strategies, different lectures and presentations styles, team-based learning, etc. The course is not only about EBM concepts taught by a high-level staff of internationally-known EBM experts, tutors and professors. Far from it in fact!

It is about becoming inspiring and motivating tutors to our students and learners of EBM. It’s about involving the learner in their learning and creating the right environment for this to flourish. I also had the pleasure of meeting people from different backgrounds and exchanging experiences in an enjoyable yet challenging atmosphere. It was genuinely transforming – a landmark in my EBM education.

Some personal projects started even before the course was ended. One of my TEBM classmates, a fellow Brazilian student, Enderson Miranda, became a great partner as we offered to translate the CEBM Critical Appraisal Worksheets from English into Portuguese. I had the opportunity to get closer to Dr. David Nunan and Dr. Kamal Mahtani who encouraged me enthusiastically to apply for a recently launched part-time MSc program in Evidence-Based Healthcare – Systematic Reviews. I was accepted and started the MSc in October 2018.

My first module was “Practice of Evidence-Based Healthcare” – again fantastic. Great face-to-face plenary and group work sessions and engaging non-Oxford weeks through a virtual learning environment. I am looking forward to attending the next modules, improving my skills in certain research synthesis which are entirely new to me, such as Complex Reviews, Realist Reviews, Meta-Analysis, etc. New projects have arisen from this experience. With support by Dr. Nunan, we are working on an “Oxford-Brazil EBM Alliance.” The aim is to create a centre of excellence in EBM Teaching in Brazil in partnership with Oxford CEBM, which is unprecedented in our country. We have invited Prof. Rachel Riera, a force in Brazilian EBM and an inspiring teacher from the Federal University of São Paulo, to compose the leading team in Brazil, along with Enderson and me.

Nowadays, I coordinate an optional Evidence-Based Healthcare course to undergraduates and lead a research group in Evidence-Based Healthcare with an emphasis on Systematic Reviews at my university. My objective is to apply the skills I’ve learned to help involve my students in their own EBM journey, so they better appreciate the value of EBM both to their practice and the health of their patients. As Benjamin Franklin once said:

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Luis Eduardo Fontes

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