SJTs, social justice and widening access: Our AMEE Conference 2022 reflections

After two years of presenting via a virtual screen, it was good to be back taking part in symposiums, presenting our findings and networking face-to-face at this year’s 50th Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) conference.

The milestone conference promotes excellence in education in the healthcare profession and in times gone by, it has taken Work Psychology Group all over Europe — from Vienna to Switzerland.

But with COVID-19 stopping travel in 2020 and 2021, meaning the conferences had to be presented virtually, it felt good to be back in 4D and on stage for the three-day hybrid conference in Lyon, which took place on August from 27th to 31st August.


Presenting at the conference

Across the day, more than 4,700 professionals, educators, students and organisations in the healthcare sector came together representing a total of 87 countries across the world with 2,055 speakers and 563 sessions.

This included consultant Jordan Buxton who held a presentation on New Insights into Widening Access in Medical School Admissions. While fellow consultant Melissa Washbrook delivered a captivating talk entitled: Exploring the Use of Knowledge Tests and SJTs as an Alternative to Interviews in Post-Graduate Selection.

Jordan says: “Widening access was one of the biggest themes to come from the event. It’s such a crucial and important factor for people to consider in the medical and healthcare field and it’s definitely a topic that’s at the forefronts of people’s minds.”

And it was certainly a topic the team here at WPG immersed ourselves in.

Along with Jordan and Mel’s talk, Professor Patterson chaired a symposium addressing the New International Insights for Widening Access in Medical School Admissions.


Chairing the symposium

Professor Patterson says: “Widening access is a real passion of ours. We’ve come to the conclusion, having researched the issues for many years, the real innovation and thinking about this issue comes from international insights.

“Internationally there is intense scrutiny of how best to address social justice in selection. Despite a plethora of different interventions, people from groups underrepresented in medicine continue to experience disadvantage in selection. That might be in terms of ethnicity or low- income backgrounds and so on.

“But getting to the causality is tricky because it’s multifaceted, as there are so many things at play.”

That’s because it’s linked to societal issues including inequities, parental education, personal aspirations and educational disadvantage.

“But what we also know, through our research,” Professor Patterson says, “Is that selection policy is guided and influenced by both an individual institution’s history and mission and goals and also importantly, the language used is influenced by the geopolitical context at which they operate.”

The symposium was made up of international speakers presenting learnings from their insights, and included:

  • The UK’s Philip Chan from Kenton Medical School, looking at new metrics to equalize educational advantage which contextualises all individual’s academic attainment relative to average attainment for their school.
  • South Africa-based Julia Blitz who looked into new methods to widening access for majority ethnicities rather than minority ethnic groups.
  • Analysing the impacts of different admissions methods and channels on the diversity among medical students in China was Michelle You.
  • While Canada-based Saleem Razack spoke about the role of critical theories which centre the voice of structurally marginalised persons in answering the ‘why’ questions behind continued inequalities.


In conclusion

Jordan added: “Overall, it was inspiring to be back networking with peers and with those who we have met virtually over the past couple of years, but never in person. It allowed us to promote those relationships, enjoy some watercooler chat and break down those virtual barriers.

“It was also fascinating to listen and present talks on topics that we’re passionate about.

“Much of our work is about researching how assessment impacts widening access to the professions like medicine, so to be presenting in front of an audience on a topic that’s not only crucial to the workplace but meaningful, it was organisational psychology at its best.”


If you are interested in understanding more about the use of SJTs in healthcare selection – or in a wider environment – please visit our research page or contact us to discuss future research opportunities.