A Day in the Life of a CE… Erik Driessen

By Jamiu Busari 

Erik Driessen, B.Sc, M.Sc., PhD

Associate Professor of Medical Education

Chair, Department of Educational Development and Educational Research, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

Editor in Chief, Perspectives on Medical Education.

  1. What is your clinical/professional background?

I started my formal training as an educationalist at the University of Amsterdam. (Masters in Educational Sciences; 1990-1994). In 2008, I obtained my PhD in Medical Education from Maastricht University.

“My background in medical education is in assessment.” Starting my education career as an assessment coordinator in the law school of Maastricht University in 1994, I joined the Department of Educational Development and Educational Research in the medical school in 2000 with the task of introducing portfolios. Since then I have been involved in the coordination of program development for the undergraduate medical program, as well as the development of work-based learning and assessment in postgraduate medical training.

  1. What percentage of your time is spent in (clinical practice), teaching activities, educational research and administrative work?

Like many academics, I am regularly confronted with how to juggle various responsibilities. 25% of my time goes to his editorial tasks as chief editor of PME, 25% is allocated to research activities, 25-50% allocated to administrative tasks, and another 25% to teaching, coaching and supervising PhD students and medical trainees.  In theory, I struggle with a 125% workload allocated to a slot for 100%.

  1. How do you enjoy your diverse (portfolio) career?

It is fantastic to be involved in all of these great activities.  For example, I enjoy my editorial work at PME because it is very creative and there is the opportunity to facilitate and drive research within medical education. Furthermore, it provides one with the privilege to help others’ to grow and  excel.  My role as department head of a group of about 70 staff members provides me with the opportunity to interact with other people and be of service to them both on a personal and professional level.  Ultimately, it is inspiring to be able to work with a group of like-minded individuals to create a vibrant and excellent medical educational research group and through the work that we offer to the medical educational community, also contribute to the realization of improved health care delivery. My various roles have offered me the opportunity to travel around a lot, learn about different educational methods and collaborate with colleagues in various educational research teams across the globe.

  1. What are your challenges and how do you manage it?

To prevent being overwhelmed by responsibilities, I partner with a colleague who supports me in the day-to-day running of the department. Nonetheless a diverse team of educators made up of sociologists, clinicians, psychologists and IT scientists and uniting them into a single team demands a lot.

As a husband and father of 3 children, I consider my family life as my first priority. I ensure that I have my wife’s support before taking on new activities. When I leave work for home, I am able to focus and devote all my attention to my family. If I am at home then I am at home.

Three tips
(Asked which tips he would like to offer junior CEs, Erik responds with the following:)

  1. Read a lot and continue reading, keep yourself up to date. As an educational researcher develop a routine, in which time is allocated for reading every week. Also make sure that you engage regularly in scholarly writing, e.g. a minimum of 500 words a week or an hour per week.
  2. Be mindful and ensure that you allocate time to personal and family needs.
  3. Apparently contradictory to point 2 above: Be flexible with the time allocated for work and personal activities