By Matthew Brett

Ten physicians from Japan visited McGill University and two of its teaching hospitals during the week of October 28 as part of a practicum course to gain insight into medical education in clinical settings as part of a formal partnership between Gifu University and McGill.

“This is a remarkably fruitful collaboration and it is only becoming more enriching with time,” said Dr. Yvonne Steinert, Director of the Institute of Health Sciences Education (IHSE) at McGill and one of the partnership founders. “It is partnerships like these that raise the bar for medical education and, ultimately, improve patient care internationally.”

Dr. Joyce Pickering is co-director of the course, an Associate Member of the IHSE, and an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Departments of Medicine and of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health.

“It is only a one week course, but it is really impressive how much impact it has had on the clinical teaching in Gifu province,” said Dr. Pickering. “One Gifu physician talked about a ‘180-degree turn’ in his teaching after attending the course.”


Knowledge-transfer in practice

Participants were clearly animated from witnessing medical education being applied in real-world clinical settings, expressing a desire to apply their findings to medical education in Japan.

“I am very impressed by medical education here because doctors asked residents careful questions and provided effective feedback. It’s very impressive for me,” said Dr. Takayoshi Shimohata, a Professor in the Department of Neurology at Gifu.

Dr. Takeharu Imai, an Assistant Professor in Gifu University’s Graduate School of Medicine, was impressed that medical students were engaged and participated at the bedside.

“Japanese students are almost always just observers, so when we go back to Japan, I want to make students more participatory in our work,” he said. “I want to be a great surgeon while being more of an educational surgeon.”

Dr. Takuya Saiki, a coordinator of the partnership, said this is not simply a one-way transfer of knowledge but an equal exchange and collaboration. Faculty members from McGill will visit Japan next year to exchange ideas and absorb Japanese approaches to medical education.

“This program really celebrates diversity and difference between the countries and encourages an interest and exchange between one and the other,” said Dr. Saiki. “I can see the interest and excitement in the faces of the participants here.”


Bedside learning, from one side of the globe to the other

The Gifu University Medical Education Development Center and McGill’s then-Centre for Medical Education developed this international faculty development program in 2014 to allow Japanese clinical teachers to benefit from observational learning in clinical settings, taking fresh ideas and best practices to Japan.

This partnership was formalized with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Gifu University and McGill University in 2017. The MOU includes faculty and staff exchanges in clinical practice training, implementation of joint research activities, participation in seminars and academic meetings, short- and medium-term research visits for graduate students and postdoctoral students, and exchanges of undergraduate students and academic materials.

Forty physicians from Japan have now participated in the program, experiencing medical education in clinical settings first-hand and breathing life into Sir William Osler’s maxim that “medicine is learned at the bedside and not in the classroom.”


The jam-packed program this year featured:

–  Five clinical teaching observations in McGill teaching hospitals

– A workshop on role modelling organized by the Faculty Development Office

– A small group discussion about women in leadership roles by Dr. Laurie Plotnick

– A tour of the Osler collection by Dr. Mary Hague-Yearl

– A conversation about whole-person care by Dr. Tom Hutchinson

– A session on effective feedback by Dr. Linda Snell

– A group discussion with students and residents facilitated by residents Drs. Sanela Music and Koray Demir

– A tour of the Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning by Niki Soilis.

“I’m so satisfied with the outcomes of this visit,” said Dr. Saiki. “I want to say thank you to the faculty here because without your sensitivity and generosity to understand cultural differences, we could not have made this program happen and succeed. I’m really grateful to the faculty, to the clinical teachers that hosted us – to everyone. We felt very welcome here and we want to say thank you.”


November 20 2019