UTMEC: Teaching the unteachable

For the first time University of Tartu is hosting an international medical education conference "Teaching the Unteachable". The conference focuses on structuring learning and teaching skills in various medical education environments, with a particular emphasis on teaching communication and employing simulated patients. Additionally, it discusses how to evaluate practical skills, manage an student or resident, and teach in a hectic working setting.

The University of Tartu has been teaching medicine since its founding in 1632. During this period, both the subject content and the manner in which education is delivered have changed. The study format and the development of its approaches present an increasing number of challenges for the instructional staff. Patients' expectations and awareness are expanding, making it more challenging for practitioners.

This year's conference will feature presentations on evidence-based methods for teaching medicine from both US visitors and Estonian practitioner-lecturers. The conference is practical in nature, with seminars providing opportunities to learn about cutting-edge techniques of teaching medicine-oriented communication and other issues. The two-day conference is open to medical students and doctors who study, teach, oversee, and coordinate, as well as practice in the medical sector. Collaborators interested in learning how to teach more effectively and use contemporary teaching techniques, such as social workers, psychologists, and physiotherapists, are also invited.

Registration for the conference is open until May 21.
Registration fee: until 31.03 49€, until 30.04 59€, until 21.05 79€.

Register here


Conference schedule


Day 1, 24 of May

10:00–10:30 Gathering
10:30–11:00 Opening: Aune Valk, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs 

I Plenary: Nancy Weigle “Update on Medical Education at Duke”

The presentation will provide an overview of the Duke University School of Medicine Patient FIRST curriculum. Topics will include integration of the biomedical sciences, assessing learner competency and longitudinal integrated clerkships among others.


II Plenary: Jonathan Fischer "Framework for Communication Skills”

The presentation will introduce a cognitive map (REMAP) for talking with patients or surrogates about goals of care. This is a useful framework for sharing news and shared decision making whether with serious illness or further upstream in primary care. We will also touch on some "interstitial skills", or specific communication behaviors that allow a provider to successfully and efficiently navigate potentially challenging conversations. The session will include a demonstration.

13:00–13:45 Lunch
Parallel sessions

Click for detailed descriptions

Nancy Weigle

"Teaching in a fast-paced environment"*

Jonathan Fischer

"Teaching communication skills at the bedside"*

Ruth Kalda and Tatjana Meister

"Motivational Interviewing: moving from Why to How"

Workshop is held in Estonian.

Anu Sarv ja Helen Reim

"One-on-one teaching skills for medical education"

Workshop is held in Estonian.

15:15–15:30 Break

III Plenary: Grete Arro What is productive failure in learning and how it supports conceptual development”

In the presentation, we will discuss the necessary conditions for optimal cognitive engagement in learning, based on ICAP model (see Chi & Wylie, 2014). Further, we look at the productive failure design (see Kapur, 2008; Sinha & Kapur, 2021; in medicine context see Goldhahn et al., 2023) and why it could substantially contribute to learning contexts; we also discuss, why we are so afraid to use effective and evidence-based ways to supporting learning.

18:00 Dinner



Day 2, 25 of May

9:30–10:00 Gathering

I Plenary: Katie Hartlieb and Inga Karton "Building communication skills with standardized patients"

This presentation will discuss the use of standardized patients in advanced communication training at two universities, Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and the Faculty of Medicine University of Tartu, moving from initial training to OSCE assessment. Essentials for the preparation of standardized patient roles, faculty development, and outcome measurement will be shared.


II Plenary: Nancy Weigle "Learner variation"

This presentation will consider the various types of learners and potential challenges when working with them in clinical settings. We will explore various techniques for improving both student and preceptor experience.

12:15–13:00 Lunch
Parallel sessions

Click for detailed descriptions

Nancy Weigle

"Motivational Interviewing for the medical educator"

Jonathan Fischer

"Teaching communication skills at the bedside" *

Katie Hartlieb and Inga Karton

"How to use standardized patients in communication training"

Julius Juurmaa

Structured practice and curriculum design" **

Workshop is held in Estonian.

14:30–14:45 Break

Nancy Weigle

"Teaching in a fast-paced environment" *

Jonathan Fischer

"Facilitating teaching communication in small groups with role play" *

Anneli Rätsep, Ljudmilla Atškasov

"Is communication measurable?"

Workshop is held in Estonian.


* - marked topics are repeated on both days.
** - marked workshops are held in Estonian.

Register here


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