Debbie Aitken (BA MA MSc PGCE PGCAP SFHEA)

Senior Fellow in Medical Education & Director of Clinical Educator Programme

Background

Debbie Aitken is the Director of the Clinical Educator Programme and a Senior Fellow in Medical Education in the Centre for Medical Education, where her teaching responsibilities include supporting clinical educators through a schedule of courses and activities on the award-winning Clinical Educator Programme, the Edinburgh Summer School in Clinical Education, and the MSc in Clinical Education. She also supervises MSc dissertation students, SSC1 groups, and final year and summer medical student research projects. Prior to taking up her post at the University of Edinburgh, Debbie trained as a Medical Educationalist at the Royal College of Physicians of London, following several years of teaching in schools and training of student teachers. Debbie is currently completing part-time doctoral research in teaching and learning in surgery at the University of Cambridge.

Debbie is currently seconded to the University of Edinburgh Institute of Academic Development for 2 days a week to work on her research on medical students' experiences of clinical attachments in surgery (until 2017).

Qualifications

1999   BA History and English, University of Stirling

2001   MA Language, Literature & Civilisation, Université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux III

2002   Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) in Primary Education, University of Durham

             Qualified Teacher Status

2010   Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP), University of Edinburgh      

2012   MSc Digital Learning, University of Edinburgh

             Fellow Higher Education Academy

2013   Principles of Medical Education CME course, Harvard Medical School

2015   Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy

Current (2013-2019) - PhD Education, University of Cambridge

                                            Thesis topic: Generational differences in perceptions of medical student experiences of clinical attachments in surgery

Research summary

Current research interests include:

  • Teaching and learning in medical education
  • Student experiences of clinical attachments (staff and student perceptions and expectations)
  • Surgical education
  • Generational theory
  • Building medical school community

Knowledge exchange

Debbie was awarded an ASME Travelling Fellowship in 2013 which lead to her delivering some medical education teaching at Yale Medical School. She also engaged in discussions regarding bedside teaching and other research interests. Debbie also attended Harvard Medical School’s ‘Principles of Medical Education’ CME course and the 2013 NEGEA Educational Retreat Spring Meeting in New York where she established a number of connections with medical education colleagues.

Medical education colleagues from Yale, Harvard and Cornell medical schools have visited the medical school in Edinburgh since Debbie's fellowship, and she continues to keep in touch with them and collaborate on a range of medical education projects.

Debbie has also delivered the Clinical Educator Programme to several other external organisations: University of Colorado Denver (February 2012), University of Health Sciences, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (December 2013), Yale Teaching and Learning Center and Yale Medical School Dept of General Internal Med (May 2014), Hong Kong Academy of Medicine (February 2015), St Andrew's Medical School (June 2015), Oxford University School of Surgery (September 2015).

Invited speaker

Aitken D (2017). What do 'Generation Me' expect from clinical attachments? Invited speaker at NHS Fife Medical Education Conference, 29 September 2017.

Aitken D (2014). An exploration of approaches to assessing and evaluating clinical teaching: learning from Yale and Harvard Medical Schools. Oral presentation at ASME Annual Scientific Meeting, Brighton, 16 – 18 July 2014.

Aitken D (2014). Impromptu Clinical Teaching. Special Event in Medical Education at Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, USA, 29 May 2014. http://tlc.yale.edu/specialEventsEd/5-29_Aitken_flyer_184497_284_23465.pdf

Organiser

SEFCE Symposium: Debbie runs the annual South East Faculty of Clinical Educators (SEFCE) Symposium (approx. 250 attendees). In 2012, she arranged for Professor Eric Mazur of Harvard University to be the keynote speaker; in 2013, Professor Olle Ten Cate of the University of Utrecht/UCSF; in 2014, Dr David Roberts of Harvard University; in 2015, Professor Mona Siddiqui of Edinburgh University, Ayla Holdom of the RAF, and Dr Judy Evans of the Royal College of Surgeons; and in 2016, BBC 1 ‘Doctor in the House’, Dr Rangan Chatterjee.

Papers delivered

Aitken D, Durkin J, Gilchrist A, Kluth D, Cameron H (2017). Who’s Who in the Medical School? Implementation of a social media based project to develop a vibrant staff-student community. Patil Teaching Innovation Award Presentation at AMEE Annual Conference, Helsinki, August 2017.

Janas A, Lyons M, Sehgal V, Walzl D, Aitken D (2015). Surgeons’ Perspectives on Learning and Teaching in Surgery. Poster presentation at the ICOSET conference, Copenhagen, 30 November 2015.

Aitken D (2015). An exploration of surgeons’ perspectives on their professional identity and teaching. STORIES conference, Oxford University, August 2015.

Aitken D, Cameron H, Edgar S, Forrester M, MacInnes L, Wood M (2015). "The road to self-insight runs through other people": comparing external critique with self-reflection to develop teaching practice. Oral presentation at AMEE Annual Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, July 2015.

Forrester M, MacInnes L, Wordie S, Aitken D (2015). Medical educators’ experience of teaching observation and feedback: getting the climate right. Oral presentation at AMEE Annual Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, July 2015.

Hampton E, Wyllie S, Skinner J, Aitken D, Ross M, Edgar S (2015). Postgraduate & Undergraduate Learning in the South East (PULSE) Developing An Army of Educators. Oral presentation at AMEE Annual Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland, July 2015.

MacInnes L, Begg M, Aitken D (2014). ‘Transforming Medical Teachers’ – the impact of faculty development. ePoster at AMEE Annual Conference, Milan, Italy, August 2014.

MacDowell V, Aitken D, Skinner J (2014). Medical Emergencies – What do we expect from our junior doctors? Poster at AMEE Annual Conference, Milan, Italy, August 2014.

Aitken D (2014). An exploration of approaches to assessing and evaluating clinical teaching: learning from Yale and Harvard Medical Schools (2014). Oral presentation at ASME Annual Scientific Meeting, Brighton, 16 – 18 July 2014.

Aitken D, Smith C (2014). Significant Event Analysis Feedback presentation at the NHS Scotland Learning from Adverse Events Conference, 7 May 2014.

Close L, Aitken D, Skinner J (2013). Can mindfulness techniques be used to reduce stress experienced by foundation year doctors, potentially improving patient care? Short communication at AMEE Annual Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, August 2013.

Aitken D, Macleod H A, Skinner J (2013). Use of smartphones amongst final year medical students on clinical attachments: practice, perceptions and impact. Oral presentation within the parallel sessions at ASME Annual Scientific Meeting, Edinburgh, 10 – 12 July 2013.

Aitken, D, Macleod H A, Skinner J (2013). Use of smartphones amongst final year medical students. Poster for eLearning@Ed conference, Edinburgh, 12 April 2013.

K R Gibson, Z Qureshi, D Aitken, V R Tallentire, S R Maxwell, H S Cameron, M T Ross (2011). Do Foundation Doctors Perceive a Requirement for Teacher Training? Oral presentation at ASME Annual Scientific Meeting, Edinburgh, July 2011.

April 2017   Shortlisted for the AMEE Patil Teaching Innovation Award

                       For abstract on: "Who’s Who in the Medical School? Implementation of a social media based project to develop a vibrant staff-student community."

Sept 2015   BMA Medical Book Awards - Highly commended in the category of Basis of Medicine

                        Co-author of Chapter 10: Teaching

May 2014     Medical Directorate Award 2014, NHS Education for Scotland

                        In the category of Process Development and Implementation.

2013/2014   ASME Travelling Fellowship

                        EDG Travelling Fellowship