Senior Lecturer in Medical Education & Director of Clinical Educator Programme
Debbie Aitken is the Director of the Clinical Educator Programme and a Senior Lecturer in Medical Education at Edinburgh Medical School, 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 5th and 6th year medical student research projects. Prior to taking up her post at the University of Edinburgh, Debbie worked 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. Her thesis topic is 'Generational differences in perceptions of medical student experiences of clinical attachments in surgery'.
2015 Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy
2012 MSc Digital Learning, University of Edinburgh
Fellow Higher Education Academy
2010 Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP), University of Edinburgh
2002 Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) in Primary Education, University of Durham
Qualified Teacher Status
2001 MA Language, Literature & Civilisation, Université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux III
1999 BA History and English, University of Stirling
Responsibilities & affiliations
Debbie is an associate of the Institute for Academic Development (IAD) and a member of the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology.
Current research interests include:
- Teaching and learning in medical education
- Generation theory
- Equality, diversity and inclusion
Debbie was awarded an ASME Travelling Fellowship in 2013 which led to an invitation to spend some time at Yale School of Medicine, where she delivered several medical education teaching sessions, some advisory work on teaching observation, and also many discussions regarding bedside teaching and other research interests. Debbie also attended Harvard Medical School’s ‘Principles of Medical Education’ CME course and the NEGEA Educational Retreat Spring Meeting at Weill Cornell Medical School where she established a number of connections with medical education colleagues.
Medical education colleagues from Yale, Harvard and Weill 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 aspects of 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 Andrews Medical School (June 2015), Oxford University School of Surgery (September 2015), St Andrews Medical School (2018), IDEAL+ Erasmus project Universite de Paris (2020).
Aitken D (2020). Generational differences in perceptions of medical student experiences of clinical attachments in surgery. Invited speaker at the NHS Lothian CAMHS Consultant CPD Meeting, The Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh, 28 September 2020.
Aitken D, Cameron HS, Van Bruggen L (2019). Team Based Learning & Faculty Development. Invited speaker at the IDEAL+ Erasmus project, Universite de Paris, 5-7 February 2020.
Aitken D (2017). What do 'Generation Me' expect from clinical attachments? Invited speaker at NHS Fife Medical Education Conference, Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, 29 September 2017.
Aitken D (2015). The Development of the Clinical Educator Programme. Invited speaker at the 8th Annual Oxford Colloquium on Medical Education, hosted by the Oxford School of Surgery, Pembroke College, University of Oxford, 29 September 2015.
Aitken D, Skinner J (2015). Medical Education: Ancient to Modern Times, Faculty Development & Impromptu Clinical Teaching. Invited speaker at Medical and Healthcare Education along the Continuum Conference, hosted by the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine, Hong Kong, 7-8 February 2015.
Aitken D (2014). An exploration of approaches to assessing and evaluating clinical teaching: learning from Yale and Harvard Medical Schools. ASME Travelling Fellowship 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.
Aitken D (2014). Significant Event Analysis Feedback. Invited speaker at the NHS Scotland Learning from Adverse Events Conference, Edinburgh, 7 May 2014.
SEFCE Symposium: Debbie runs the biennial 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; in 2016, BBC 1 ‘Doctor in the House’, Dr Rangan Chatterjee; in 2017, Professor Peter Cantillon of the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway; and in 2019, Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid of the University of Kent.
Aitken D, Harden J, Young I, Poziemska A, Shoveller L, O’Neill T, Cunningham-Burley S (2020). Developing an inclusive curriculum: LGBTQ+ Teaching and Learning in the Undergraduate Medical Curriculum. Workshop at the University of Edinburgh Learning & Teaching Conference, Edinburgh, June 2020 (Accepted).
Aitken D, Han M, Hussain Z, Mautsi C, Porth E, Gray M (2020). “You can’t be what you can’t see”: the importance of racially diverse role models in medical education. Poster presentation at the University of Edinburgh Learning & Teaching Conference, Edinburgh, June 2020 (Accepted).
Lee I, Forrester M, Aitken D (2020). Unveiling the Hidden Curriculum. Presentation at the University of Edinburgh Learning & Teaching Conference, Edinburgh, June 2020 (Accepted).
Aitken D, Han M, Porth E (2020). “You can’t be what you can’t see”: the importance of racially diverse role models in medical education. Presentation at the CBSS-EdCMA Critical Care Symposium: The Value and Ethics of Practices of Care sponsored by the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society (CBSS) and the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology (EdCMA), 18-19 March 2020 (Accepted but Symposium postponed due to COVID-19).
Aitken D, Han M, Mautsi C, Porth E (2019). Understanding the impact of BME diversity in a UK medical school: an ethnographic approach. Individual gallery (late breaking) at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Vancouver, November 2019.
Forrester M, Lee I, Aitken D (2019). Teaching Observation and Feedback in Medical Education: what is the value? Presentation at the University of Edinburgh Learning & Teaching Conference, Edinburgh, June 2019.
Storey A, Aitken D, Lee I, Ali S, Raffles S, Barclay C, McGovern D, Wood M (2019). Use of Biographies to Heighten the Undergraduate Student Experience. Poster Presentation at the NHS Education for Scotland 9th National Scottish Education Conference, Edinburgh, May 2019.
Aitken D (2019). Generational differences in perceptions of medical student experiences of clinical attachments in surgery. Oral presentation at the Durham-Edinburgh Advanced Workshop for Anthropological Research on Health, Medicine, and Wellbeing, hosted by the Anthropology of Health Research Group (Durham University) and the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology, with support from NINE DTP, Durham University, April 2019.
Aitken D (2019). Exploring relationships between the human and the non-human: Generational differences in perceptions of medical student experiences of clinical attachments in surgery. Oral presentation at Worlds Beyond Us: SoMA Symposium on the Human & Non-Human in Medical Anthropology, hosted by the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology & Students of Medical Anthropology (SoMA), Edinburgh, February 2019.
Aitken D, Vermunt J (2018). Valuing Education in Health: Perspectives on Medical Student Experiences in Surgery. Parallel session presentation at the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology & Royal Anthropological Institute Biennial Conference, Edinburgh, September 2018.
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. Oral presentation at ASME Annual Scientific Meeting, Brighton, 16 – 18 July 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.
May 2020 Nominated for EUSA Teaching Award
In the category of Outstanding Course for the course CEP/IAD "Shut Up & Write"
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 for the Clinical Educator Programme (CEP)
2013/2014 ASME Travelling Fellowship
EDG Travelling Fellowship