How to communicate inside a medical school?

A request for thoughts, not a pearl of wisdom.

Communication is an important issue and goes all the way from communicating with external bodies such as the GMC, to making all our students and teachers feel that they are kept in touch.  This question is predominantly about these last two groups – how do we keep them informed and engaged?  Sustainably?  Here are some ideas – please add yours:

  • Blog – short posts with MB ChB news aimed at Edinburgh undergraduates and teachers.  Include stuff they’ll be interested in (how many failed, got A grades), exclude dull and worthy (a room is closed for a fortnight)
  • Post headlines feed from blog to EEMeC, and wherever else we can.
  • An email Newsletter which is just headlines from the same, e.g. every month.   But where is the mailing list?
  • Printed newsletter – tried in the past and stalled.  Will it ever work?
  • Facebook anyone?  www.facebook.com/neilturn.  Other social media?

Please post your thinking as a Comment below

8 Comments

  1. Fred Pender

    Better business processes: better prep for meetings -better and quicker documentation afterwards. Should be standards (10 day rule) for meetings (agenda and papers 10 days before, minutes and action points 10 days after). Minutes deposited centrally (Lotus quickr is excellent!). Meeting times maximum 90 minutes (communication is unfocused beyond this). Minute template would help standardise. Chairs of meetings should go on training courses. Clear hierarchy between meetings. Just to start the string!

    • Neil Turner

      Yes unfortunately that is true for NHS PCs, useful things such as Fbk are blocked. But an increasing number of us are carrying personal devices that don’t have these limitations (and surely the NHS is going to have to get to grips with this one day!). At present, good for students and some Univ teachers, but won’t get to NHS teachers who aren’t smartphone-savvy.
      This blog from its own url (as opposed to a Blogger or WordPress url) should be safe.

  2. Michael Ross

    I think the students are fairly easy as they all heavily use EEMeC and are well used to reading the Noticeboard for one-way communications from staff, completing evaluation questionnaires to give one-way feedback to us, and the Academic Discussion Boards for more interactive asynchronous communication. I don’t think anyone (staff or students) would be keen to create a new website in parallel to EEMeC. There are also various existing channels for synchronous communication between students and staff in course teaching, staff-student liaison meetings and MSC meetings Some of these channels could be made more inclusive for more student voices to be heard, but they seem to be largely functional.

    Many staff also use EEMeC – hopefully increasing over time, although probably only those who are particularly enthusiastic or have some other reason for using it will access it regularly. Those with senior positions will also be involved in the sorts of meetings Fred mentions above. Clinicians who teach but are only peripherally involved with the university are probably the hardest group to communicate with. We now have most local FY doctors coming to training for the FY teaching and Student Assistantship schemes once or twice a year, and many others are going along to the Clinical Educator Programme sessions, so they can be informed about significant developments and preferable communication channels then, although it is infrequent. The SEFCE website has been created to enhance communication with them and others, although again I suspect only the real enthusiasts will access it regularly. Perhaps it is this last group though, of STs / consultants / GPs who teach but probably do not see this as the major part of their work who will be most difficult to communicate with and need special attention. I can’t imagine this group engaging with a curriculum blog, wiki or Facebook page any more than with existing communication methods. How to communicate with them? Module / course meetings, departmental meetings, at induction, grand rounds, by newsletter, e-mail, offer of a free lunch, competition… probably a combination of multiple different methods.

  3. Neil Turner

    Multiple routes – agree. How to keep them sustainable? One way could be to send short messages with teasers to the info in one place. Students do, but I don’t think many staff use EEMeC, just looking at my own department.
    Perhaps by pooling our email lists we can make something. Absolutely the key would be to have interesting teasers and content so that they don’t start to habitually bin the messages.
    – Finals results
    – Who won the teaching prize
    – The GMC is going to kill us all
    – ?How to make a good OSCE station
    – MCQ-writing intitiative.
    – Test yourself here …

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