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Catalyzing change to improve the quality of care

November 25, 2014—

Over 350 health care professionals from Lebanon, the region and abroad gathered at the Movenpick Hotel in Beirut to attend the LAU Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine International Conference on Medical Education.  The first-of-its-kind event was held on November 21-22 under the patronage of Lama Tammam Salam, spouse of the Lebanese prime minister, with the theme of “Catalyzing Change to Improve the Quality of Health Care.”

Participants from all Lebanese medical and public health schools gathered with local and international researchers, practitioners and educators in the field to address the current challenges commonly faced in medical education. Through workshops and round-tables led by world-renowned professionals from leader academic institutions, the focus was put on the quality of care and patient safety and the incorporation of innovative technologies in medical education.

The successful event was spearheaded by  Dr. Youssef G. Comair, dean of the LAU School of Medicine (SOM), and Dr. Ara Tekian, associate dean for international affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. According to Comair, the conference reflects a recognition of a global revolution that has taken place in medical education over the past two decades, in which the training of doctors no longer only includes the imparting of knowledge, but also focuses on testing physicians’ actual competence in order to ensure patient safety.

Traditionally, medical education was delivered by physicians who were not specially trained to teach others, increasing the risks of errors in patient care. However, according to the professor of surgery, “today, medical school graduates have to deliver up-to-date, ethical and resource efficient medical care,” all of which can only be ensured by proper training. Comair highlighted the fact that such conference was held in Lebanon, “given its role as a leader in medical education, a result of the country’s having the best and oldest tradition of medical schools in the region.”

As explained by Dr. Sola Aoun Bahous, SOM assistant dean for Clinical Affairs and co-chair of the organizing committee, the conference had two objectives: first, “to raise awareness on the importance of formally training educators so that they can better prepare future physicians,” and second, “to highlight the importance of following proper processes” in building this training system.

The first day of the conference opened with a panel consisting of the representatives of all seven medical schools in Lebanon, who shared experiences of overcoming challenges in training physicians who teach in their schools to become better instructors. Bahous’ co-chair, Dr. Vanda Abi Raad, associate professor of anesthesiology at SOM, underlined the conference’s significance for LAU’s position as a leader in health education in the country and the region.  “Being the youngest medical school in Lebanon and bringing under our umbrella people from all health related institutions to speak the same language leading to better patient care is something we are very proud of,” Abi Raad declared reminding of one of the event’s main goals to encourage networking among practitioners and educators in health professions and related fields in Lebanon and abroad. 

“There are many challenges to medical education in my country, Jordan,” said a pediatrics student from the Jordan University of Science and Technology. On an exchange program for a semester at the American University of Beirut, she expressed great enthusiasm about the conference. “I have come to learn – and have learnt about – some solutions that I can go home with and apply there.” 

Defining the conference as seminally significant and strategic, LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra expressed his gratitude to the organizers. “The medical students who attended the conference were so thankful and so proud to be part of an extraordinary event which continues to be the talk of the town,” he enthused expressing the hope that that this would be the inaugural conference of a series of annual conferences looking at medical education.

To learn more about medical education check the Q&A LAU conducted with Dr. Ara Tekian on Nov. 20.

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The event kicked off with a panel composed of representatives from all the seven medical schools in Lebanon.

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The audience stands up as Dr. Bahous (singing) and Dr. Tekian (on the piano) perform the Lebanese National Anthem.

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In his welcome speech Dr. Comair reminds the audience of Lebanon’s role as a leader in medical care and education in the region.

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For Dr. Ara Tekian leaders in the field need to appreciate and acknowledge that expertise in medical education is essential.

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In her speech, Lama Salam’s special acknowledgement went to “the participants and guests who believe in Lebanon and attended the event to bring their inputs to this conference.”

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SOM students marked the end of the opening ceremony with an entertaining musical performance.

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