Edinburgh Surgery Online

Building a heart-felt community amongst our online students and tutors on the MSc in PSCHF

In order to build community amongst our online students and tutors on the MSc in PSCHF we have devised a series called “Fireside sessions”.

The aim of a fireside session/chat is to learn a bit more about our Course Leads and humanise human factors for our students. We spend 30-40 mins, with a streaming fireplace roaring and burning in the background whereby one of the Programme Directors will informally interview our Course Leads and tutors with reflective questions. This enables tutors to give a more personal/professional insight into their career in Human Factors Science – students get to understand what makes them tick – that kind of thing.

Ultimately, this also aims to bring to life the tutor for students so that in the online discussion board interaction they feel that they can build a closer relationship with them based on them as humans with a personal life story and journey.

As an example please see below a recent fireside session with Emma Howie- our Course 5 Lead. Emma is a Surgical Registrar and Clinical Research Fellow, as well as a Discussion Board Tutor and a graduate tutor. Therefore Emma was a student initially on the course so has been in the same position as many of our students previously.

Video: Year 2 Fireside session
Year 2 fireside session

These are the questions that Emma Howie was asked:

  1. What inspired you to delve into the world of human factors and surgical non-technical skills, and what keeps you passionate about it?
  2. We've all heard about the intense moments in the OR. Can you share a memorable experience where strong non-technical skills really made a difference in a surgical procedure?
  3. You have expertise in a diverse array of pursuits: Surgery, music, sports, research and public service to name a few. What do you think are the secret ingredients for fostering great performance across domains? What do these activities have in common?
  4. Are there any common misconceptions about clinical human factors that you'd like to debunk?
  5. What's one piece of advice or a tip you'd give to aspiring professionals who want to make a difference using clinical human factors? 


In ancient Persian mythology “fire” represents “heart” and these sessions attempt to inject a sense of heart into what our tutors and students are doing in their everyday lives - as after all they are the highly driven and passionate cutting edge pioneers of Human Factors science and are part of a growing community of people attempting to better understand human behaviour in the healthcare workplace.