Community Stories
Making teaching and training more accessible

Making teaching and training more accessible

Ignatius Liew is an ST6 Trauma and Orthopaedic Specialty Registrar in the East of England deanery, based in Cambridge and Norwich. Ignatius is part of East of England specialty training and the webmaster for the British Orthopaedic Training Association. Kate Spacey is an Orthopaedic Surgeon and a fellow in Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust. Kate was recently appointed as a consultant in Norwich and is the co-director of Education for East of England Orthopaedics. Kate also runs the Norwich Orthopaedic Education Group on MedAll, as well as the Women of East Anglia Trauma Surgeons.

We had the privilege of chatting to Ignatius and Kate about the various organisations they’re a part of, covering everything from diversity to accessibility and what the future holds for the Orthopaedic community.

We’d love to know more about the organisations you’re a part of. What’s the vision, and culture like within them?

Ignatius Liew: In the East of England, we've always been heavy on education, which translates across multiple platforms, as well as a focus on making accessible education for everyone. This includes medical students, core trainees, orthopaedic registrars and beyond. In terms of specialty training, we try to make education as accessible as possible to every single person at every single level. When we found MedAll that's where our goals aligned, as we wanted our teaching to be accessible to people that previously hadn't had access.

Kate Spacey: MedAll definitely has a similar goal alignment to us. We want to be able to share education with our trainees, but also share it with other trainees as well, such as a staff grade or associate specialists across the country. MedAll takes that one step further and allows us to actually deliver training on a global platform. For example, we recently ran a webinar series on transitioning in careers outside of East of England Orthopaedics. During this event doctors of all grades were discussing problems that people don't frequently talk about, or go to a training course on. The WEATS group has also done a transition webinar series on how to prepare for a consultant post, which typically is less available as a face to face course.

MedAll has allowed us to be able to expand on how we deliver our teaching. We run our deanery teaching entirely through MedAll now. We are able to deliver that to our trainees in a safe space, that everyone can access. It automatically uploads, and is available to the trainees afterwards. Plus, feedback and the attendance registers are all in one place, and so it becomes a much easier management option as well.

MedAll are really great at staying up to date and speaking to us about new ideas. Recently we had a feature added to our account where we can run members only events. This means we can do exam viva practice with our registrars in a safe space and it can be uploaded so that only the members of the group can see it. It’s really important to recognise the different types of teaching that we deliver on MedAll, as it’s not all suitable as open access, but when needed, there are options to be able to run breakout sessions and do exam practice.

We’d love to know more about accessibility, and how you factor it into your event planning and delivery?

Kate Spacey: Ultimately we have to always think about what it is that we're trying to achieve with our teaching sessions. The deanery teaching, where we're trying to give education to a group, that's perfectly suited for an open forum where everyone can come and join. We're more than happy to share that education and share the resources that we have. We have some phenomenal trainers within our region, but we're also able to bring teachers in from other regions, maybe with sub specialist interests that we may not have in our region.

Ignatius Liew: Since Covid, hybrid platforms have been great in terms of creating a library of knowledge. East of England is quite a big deanery, so for you to travel 3 or 4 times a month, plus the petrol cost of a 50 to a 100 miles return, plus the stress of getting out of the clinic in the morning and getting to the venue by the afternoon. Those are the things that people don't really talk about. The other challenges that we face is geopolitics, and who can have access to knowledge. I think within orthopaedics itself, particularly foundation and core surgical training, there's more and more knowledge out there, a lot of which is available on MedAll. It's about finding the right balance.

Kate Spacey: The cost of living crisis is real for trainees, the cost of doing your exams and the cost of training in general. When you add in cost of that petrol, and parking, it really does start to racking up quite quickly over a year. This definitely filters into the sustainability of teaching. However from coming through Covid, where you have the option of making courses virtual, there is the potential for exploitation. One of the things that Norwich Orthopaedic Education Group have been doing is running a free ST3 interview prep course. We do this entirely through MedAll, it doesn't cost us anything, other than an hour a week and it doesn't cost the candidates anything. It's free, and I think that's the beauty of MedAll. The sessions are available for trainees to watch the recordings, right up to the time of their interview. Now, rather than being charged £300-500 for an interview course, they've got the resources available to watch on demand.

Ignatius Liew: Asynchronous viewing of any knowledge platform is great for not only reputation but also patient safety. Sometimes learning from a book may not be best suited for everyone. From my personal experiences, and I know Kate's is passionate about this, we need to cater to a neurodiverse community, where it might be audio, video, or practical formats that work best. We've got to have everything, for everyone.

Can you share how you leverage social media alongside MedAll to reach a global audience?

Ignatius Liew: We've grown substantially as East of England in terms of our social media presence. The more you share on Twitter, the more you retweet, the more impressions you get. This is important to a certain extent because if we have a social media presence, it gives us an opportunity to invite speakers who have a big following, which impacts our attendees. On Ortho Twitter if you use #OrthoMed of #MedTwitter or whatever sub-specialty you are within medicine, the outreach is huge. We also have a newsletter which is open to members and non-members. We also always tag MedAll when we post, as they have quite a large online medical following, and we try to tap into other networks through that.

What are some of the benefits of Organisations using MedAll?

Kate Spacey: The platform itself is actually really user friendly. I love how when you create an event, everything that you need to do to set it up, is on the one screen. There's a button to invite your speakers, a button to set up your feedback and you can easily personalise questions and customise your certificates. It's all there in one place ready to go. I probably have around 20 teaching sessions running at the moment across the different organisations that I have on MedAll and they're all set up so that all we need to do is click 'go live'. It's all there ready to go.

Is there a particular feature that stands out to you?

Ignatius Liew: Everything really. The traditional way used to be, you go to an event, you sign a piece of paper, then that paper gets uploaded somewhere or given to someone else in the faculty. You would then collect your feedback on another platform and upload your PowerPoint onto a USB. It was cross platforms, rather than MedAll which is all in one. The automation is great too as MedAll notifies attendees that a recording has been uploaded and for those who couldn't make it, they can still get a certificate by watching asynchronously.

Kate Spacey: MedAll also gives us an opportunity to create a brand. The organisation page has our logos on it, our events are branded, and sharing them on social media helps these organisations build a positive reputation.

What does the future look like for neurodiverse learners on MedAll, and how can we better cater to their needs?

Kate Spacey: MedAll has some elements that do this already, such as the breakout room functionality which you can use for smaller group sessions. For example, if people feel anxious talking in a large group, we can set up breakout rooms, which brings people in automatically. These lend themselves to more interactive teaching and hopefully make people feel more comfortable asking, and answering questions. From a neurodiversity point of view in particular, using the Miro in the chat box has been quite useful. There's lots of different templates that you can use such as flow charts and mind-mapping which are great ways to help people link concepts together.

What does a flourishing orthopaedic community look like on MedAll?

Ignatius Liew: It's amazing that BOTA is using MedAll for their annual congress. However it shouldn't stop there. We should expand to consultant subspecialty groups like British Hip Society or British Knee Society, just to name a few. We want to push the boundaries, be present as a community, and show what the benefits are in being accessible to encourage other organisations to do the same.

Kate Spacey: It's also an opportunity for representation. The access to different types of orthopaedic surgeons that we have by using virtual platforms like MedAll is much greater. We are running a diversity, equity and inclusion session for East of England and I've been able to get some really great speakers that if I had to ask them to come to speak for half an hour face to face, I probably wouldn't be able to achieve that. Plus, we'll also be able to have that recording available on MedAll. Representation is just so important. It's part of the reason why we set up WEATS as we are always seeking to improve the faculty and be as representative as possible.

Over the past year, is there a particular moment or event that are you most proud of?

Ignatius Liew: It would have to be the clinical research day. Through MedAll we were able to reach 150 delegates internationally across 15 countries, which was great. We also invited top speakers from Germany, the chair of a national Joint Registry and the head of the National Health Research Institute for Musculoskeletal health, amongst others. That was just phenomenal.

Kate Spacey: For me, it's just being able to provide education to each different grade. I'm always very proud of the ST3 interview prep course because that's something that I started a few years ago and it has now become Norwich Orthopaedic Education Group. This is the first year we're doing it through MedAll and we are getting really great feedback, not just about the teaching, but about the platform and how we're able to run the course and make it available to them. I find it very rewarding that we're able to provide that for free when it's such a stressful thing for trainees now. I'm also very proud of the WEATS group and the transition webinar series that we've run, because it's not the 'typical' orthopaedic content that you would see people discussing. I guess for me, I want to push the boundaries a little bit by talking about the things that are difficult in training because no one else really does. The focus is always on the glamorous side, but actually there's a lot of ups and downs in training for everyone, and some people have more downs than ups and some stages are harder. In particular, the transition points in your career are hard, going from medical student to F1, going from CST to registrar, going from registrar to fellow, fellow to consultant, and actually being able to see and hear that everyone has similar kind thoughts and journeys is so reassuring.

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