BY JAMIU BUSARI (@JOBUSAR)
Renée E. Stalmeijer (@ReneeStalmeijer)
Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences,
Department of Educational Development and Research
School of Health Professions Education
Maastricht, the Netherlands
Dr. Renée E. Stalmeijer, PhD has been active in the field of Medical Education since 2005, when she obtained her Master’s in Educational Sciences at Maastricht University. Her Master’s thesis focused on how interdisciplinary teaching teams create multi-disciplinary educational program1, and, shortly after graduation, she began working at the Department of Educational Development and Research at Maastricht Universitywhere she led a program evaluation task force. She combined this works with her PhD project, which focused on the evaluation of clinical teachers using Cognitive Apprenticeship. The instrument that resulted from her PhD project, the Maastricht Clinical Teaching Questionnaire,2 has been validated for use in various healthcare professions and translated into 12 different languages.
Since obtaining her PhD in 2011, Renée’s research work has explored workplace learning and supervision from various perspectives. In 2012, she spent three months at the Wilson Centre in Toronto and two months at the Centre for Health Education Scholarship in Vancouver, further specializing in qualitative research methodology and developing her program of research. From 2013 to 2016, she was the program director for the Master of Health Professions Education (MHPE) program at the School of Health Professions Education (SHE), where she presently has a role as a course coordinator.
Working “more than full time”
The majority of Dr Stalmeijer’s professional time (60 per cent) is dedicated to leading the program evaluation taskforce, in which she and her colleagues work on monitoring and enhancing the educational quality for the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences at Maastricht University3 . She shares that she works “more than full-time”, with the additional hours often going towards her teaching (10 percent) and research activities (30 per cent).
In her role as taskforce lead, “I combine administrative, educational design and research tasks as I develop evaluation procedures and instruments to support the course coordinators of the Medical Curriculum. Also, I conduct in-depth research to explore certain aspects of educational quality”. Her teaching tasks in the MHPE program are focused on research skills and qualitative research methodology, and she also teaches from short courses at SHE, where she holds the role of methodological consultant. She very much enjoys teaching the merits of qualitative research methodologies and how to use them rigorously to students from post-positive research traditions. In addition to these activities, Renée tries to protect time for her own research projects in which she collaborates with inspiring colleagues from all over the world. She recently started exploring how entire healthcare teams can be more involved in the workplace learning of healthcare trainees across professions4.
Finding balance in a diverse portfolio
Dr Stalmeijer enjoys the diversity of activities in her professional portfolio, sharing, “I love being able to combine the different aspects of my work because it enables me on the one hand to contribute to the professional development of other health profession educators and researchers, and on the other hand optimize the education of healthcare professionals in general. I like that my work enables me to collaborate with diverse people who are equally motivated to make a difference by improving education be it through educational design, research or leadership”. According to Renée, “no workweek is the same and I get to see the results of my work in various ways: graduating students, publication and citation of my research work, and quality improvement of the education at Maastricht University”.
With respect to challenges she may be facing through the diversity of her work, Renée admits, “In all honesty, although I enjoy combining these different roles very much, it can also be very frustrating, especially if one role calls you away from your work in another role. Trial and tribulation have taught me that the key to a healthy work-life balance is to create some type of focus in your activities and work-portfolio”. She acknowledges that while being interested in a broad range of topics can satisfy individual curiosities, it can also wreaking havoc on how to divide one’s time. For those who may have perfectionistic tendencies (she says she is “working on” hers), it is better – and strongly advised – to be selective in the topics to focus your attention on rather than to wanting to do it all. “I have become better at this, but it is still a challenge. And, oh yes, if there is no deadline in sight, I prefer to leave my e-mails unopened during evenings, weekends and vacation time” she concludes.
Three tips for junior CEs: Juggling roles can be fun!, find teachers and collaborators, attend health profession conferences.
Finally, based on her own professional experience, Dr Stalmeijer was asked to share three tips she would offer junior CEs:
- Focus your attention and try to make the knife cut both (or even multiple) ways – juggling multiple roles can be fun if you can create some spillover to help you strengthen your work in the various aspects of your roles.
- Find people whom you can learn from and collaborate with. Individuals who support your passions but are not afraid to (constructively) challenge you – venture outside of your immediate circle, try to connect with people from other health professions, education, psychology, sociology etc departments, courses, programs and let yourself be inspired by the different ways in which they view your professional conundrums.
- Attend health professions education conferences (preferably international ones) and let yourself be welcomed to the positive and diverse community that has one shared purpose: improve educational quality of our (future) health professionals so that we can ultimately improve patient care.
1.Stalmeijer, R. E., Gijselaers, W. H., Wolfhagen, I. H., Harendza, S., & Scherpbier, A. J. (2007). How interdisciplinary teams can create multi‐disciplinary education: the interplay between team processes and educational quality. Medical Education, 41(11), 1059-1066.
2. Stalmeijer, R. E., Dolmans, D. H., Wolfhagen, I. H., Muijtjens, A. M., & Scherpbier, A. J. (2010). The Maastricht Clinical Teaching Questionnaire (MCTQ) as a valid and reliable instrument for the evaluation of clinical teachers. Academic Medicine, 85(11), 1732-1738.
3. Stalmeijer, R. E., Whittingham, J. R.D., Bendermacher, G. W., Wolfhagen, I. H.A.P., Dolmans, D. H.J.M., & Sehlbach, C. (2022). Continuous enhancement of educational quality–fostering a quality culture: AMEE Guide No. 147. Medical Teacher, 1-11.
4. Stalmeijer, R. E., & Varpio, L. (2021). The wolf you feed: challenging intraprofessional workplace‐based education norms. Medical Education, 55(8), 894-902.
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