A Day in the Life of a CE… Fedde Scheele

By Jamiu Busari

Fedde Scheele, MD, PhD is a gynecologist who works in a large general teaching hospital, St. Lucas Andreas hospital in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. He describes himself as a generalist and has been practicing within the full breadth of his discipline for the past 17 years.

In 2004, he was appointed as professor of medical education in Obstetrics and Gynecology, which, in 2013, transitioned into a joint professorship appointment in health systems innovation and education at the VU University’s faculty of health, medical and life sciences, and the Athena institute for trans-disciplinary research in Amsterdam. His area of focus is societal responsiveness in medical education.

Asked to share more about his clinical background, Fedde says “I have always been interested in medical education and intrigued by the various methods of implementation in practice.” For example, during his professional training, he passed through five different hospital settings (instead of three, as was typical at the time) and I experienced a lack of formal strategy and planning in most sites.  That experience is what later triggered his curiosity in the dynamics involved in the planning, organization and implementation of postgraduate medical training. This was part of the reason why he accepted the offer to modernize the OBGYN residency program in 2004 – of course, he adds with a smile; he was unaware of what he was getting himself into at the time.

Prof. Scheele shares that after a recent calculation of the time he spends on his professional responsibilities, he ended up with a whopping 180% of time allocated to these tasks. 60 per cent of his time goes to clinical work, 40 per cent to academic work (including research and teaching responsibilities), 10 per cent goes to national medical educational responsibilities/projects, and the remaining 70 per cent is dedicated to the supervision of 10-15 PhD students. However, he concedes that due to his involvement in research and leadership in medical education, his role as clinician has shifted to the background.  When asked if he has enough time left to spend with his family, is the happily married and father of three children jokes that the moment his wife asks him whether he still loves them, he takes it as a cue to slow down.

Fedde is passionate about his diverse portfolio. While it demands a lot of his time, he manages to combine all of the activities effectively as a result of the enormous overlap and between the different roles and goals of the activities he is involved in. However, he does say if you asked him whether this is a lifestyle to recommend to others, his answer would probably be no.

Asked if he has difficulty with the diversity in is work and how he manages its, Fedde responds pensively, “If you take a close look at many academic centers, you’ll notice that the amount of support in human resource and infrastructure allocated to research and development in medical education is inadequate. In this respect, medical education is underserved, which means, if you want to embark on large-scale projects in medical education within and particularly outside the university setting, then you need be responsible for your own resources”.  As a consequence, he has (along with his hospital) had to manage the funding of his medical educational secretariat, which is responsible for all of the educational projects he is involved in.

To wrap up my interview, I asked Prof. Scheele what 3 tips he would like to offer junior CEs and he shared the following tips:

  1. Make sure that you are part of a strong educational infrastructure or belong to a medical educational institution (such as the educational development and research department in Maastricht), where the discourse of medical education takes place at a high academic level.
  2. When you choose to embark on research in medical education as a Clinician Educator, realize that you are entering into a totally different research paradigm: he has noticed that a lot of clinicians struggle with the transition from the familiar positivist paradigm of clinical research to the more social constructivist research paradigm in medical education.
  3. We need to be extrovert in our views towards society; in other words, be open and listen to what society demands from us regarding the sort of doctors we need to produce if we wish to provide credible medical education as a health care system.