As a full-time teacher, it is relatively rare that I get the opportunity to go to teacher conferences, let alone the chance to attend an academic science meeting. As a result, I was delighted to be invited to Evidence Live by Ruth Davis at the CEBM to contribute to a panel session on teaching evidence-based medicine, and, by the way, I could stay for the whole conference. I was fortunate that the conference dates fell during my school’s Easter holiday, so there was no conflict with needing to take time out of school – very difficult in general and particularly at this time of year with the approaching GCSE and A Level exam season.
The two days of Evidence Live was a real education for me, not only in furthering my knowledge of evidence-based medicine methodology, but also hearing about the subtle shifts in the field. There was a significant focus through the meeting on the role of the patient in understanding the decisions that need to be made, as a collaboration between patient, clinician and research evidence.
From a personal perspective, the chance to share ideas about how evidence-based medicine can be incorporated more explicitly into the school curriculum has been fantastic. There are lots of links, particularly in the new GCSE specifications, where teachers have the opportunity to introduce students to the principles of EBM. There are openings in the Biology subject content and in ‘Working Scientifically’, an aspect of the course aimed at developing students’ confidence at understanding scientific methods and application. I hope that, with the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine exploring how they might support teachers in the delivery of both curricular and extracurricular EBM activities, there will be more opportunities for researchers and clinicians to work with teachers.
What the conference really showed me was that members of the EBM community, and “hangers on” like me, all have different skills. If we want to engage current school children, the general public, or patients in GP surgeries and hospitals, in these vital topics, we will have to work together much more to do it.
My conference highlights:
Blog written by Sarah Pannell, Biology teacher at Lingfield Notre Dame School in Surrey and Evidence Live 2015 panel member