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SAFRI residential session

I’ve recently finished the second residential session of SAFRI, a programme for the development of research in medical education in Africa. I spent a big part of 2010 working on my SAFRI project (link to project notes), which I’ll be presenting at this years SAAHE conference in Potchefstroom. One of the main assignments for this session was the development of a poster presenting the results of my research project.

We spent most of the first day assisting the first year (2011) Fellows with the research projects that they’ll be implementing this year. I was surprised at how much more confident I felt in terms of being able to give feedback this year. Last year I felt a bit lost a lot of the time and wasn’t really sure of myself. It’s funny how you don’t really notice personal development until you’re in a similar situation as you were before and can compare your previous responses to current ones.

Over the course of the next few days we spent a lot of time discussing the following main topics, often using our individual projects as a foundation:

  • Various aspects of effective leadership
  • Research dissemination in the form of oral and poster presentations, and abstract development
  • The scholarship of teaching
  • Programme evaluation
  • Creating a portfolio of professional development

During the course of the session I had some really interesting conversations with other fellows around their research projects, which I’m hoping will lead to some interesting projects.

One of these is the possibility of introducing a clinical placement for physio students into a rural clinical school in Worcester. Some of our students want to go back to practice physiotherapy in small, rural villages in remote parts of the country, and a rural clinical setting would better prepare them for this.

The other project was one implemented by a palliative care physician who introduced an integrated tutorial on palliative care with small groups of students. Since I had a few students who shared personal experiences around patients with terminal illnesses, and their struggles around related issues, I thought I could learn a lot from attending the tutorial with the medical students and seeing if there’s anything that could translate to our students. I teach a section on Death and Dying in the Professional Ethics module, and this tutorial sounds really inspiring in terms of changing my approach.

On the whole, this session has been far less intensive than the first one, although I didn’t have much free time. I found that I spent a lot more time in discussion with other fellows, which was a great learning experience.

By Michael Rowe

I'm a lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. I'm interested in technology, education and healthcare and look for places where these things meet.