The medical education theater session was nothing short of awesome, though at first I wasn't sure where it was going. Presenter Richard Aghababian, MD, started by taking a hard look at where we're at when it comes to establishing and monitoring performance, and helping physicians enhance their performance. While outcomes research is nice, it isn't the be-all and end-all of performance, he said. The patient-physician relationship is an important piece of medical competence (I am so in his camp on this one).
He then went all the way back to King Hammurabi of Mesopotamia and his code to see how medical competence has been measured over time. Turns out many of his rules had to do with medical care -- and if you think malpractice punishments are harsh now, at least they won't actually cut your hand off, as called for by Hammurabi's code! He went through Hippocrates to the AMA's current code of ethics and everything in between, pointing out that at the core docs have always been measured at least in part on their ability to accord patients dignity and respect, along with responding to their medical needs. You can download the handout from the Alliance site, which I plan to do. It was a great historical overview.
He also went through recent public scrutiny of physician behavior, such as the Institute of Medicine's To Err Is Human report, the Macy Foundation report on commercial support and bias in CME, the Baucus and Grassley investigations, and other recent developments that put CME and physician performance outcomes under the microscope.
What does all this have to do with medical education theater? When you re-create the clinical setting, props and all, and include the entire team in a role-playing exercise, the results can be pretty amazing. He showed us a few clips of sessions that centered on patient communications and the healthcare provider-patient relationship, then brought three members of the audience up to play out a skit.
Explaining it doesn't do it justice, because the whole point of education theater-style is the experience. What you learn hits not just your head, but your gut and heart as well. It was a show, don't tell, session, and it really, really worked. What a great -- though likely pretty expensive -- educational format.