Most clinicians have heard of Cochrane reviews and understand the term as shorthand for a rigorous systematic review process applied to a clinical question. The equivalent process within medical education (a Best Evidence Medical Education (BEME) review) also involves a team of reviewers who construct a research question, develop a protocol and then sift, analyse and summarise the evidence for publication, usually as a Guide to support best practice and further research.
There have been many BEME reviews within medical education but the first Veterinary Science BEME Review to be published as a Guide has just been accepted. The title of the review “How important are professional (non-technical) competencies for veterinary graduate success?” was selected as results will help to inform curriculum planning for Veterinary educational programmes.
Three categories were considered when searching for evidence of graduate success- expert frameworks, the perception of practice owners or clients (stakeholders) and empirical research. Only one non-technical competence was supported by high quality research in all three categories- communication skills.
This is relevant to dentists for two reasons. Firstly our worlds are more similar than you might think – both dentists and veterinary surgeons first try to prevent disease with regular “check-ups”, we both work in highly-specialised teams to treat our patients/clients and their families/owners and we often run our own businesses, employing and training others. Developing competence in communication has been shown to be important to graduate success for our veterinary colleagues and logically this research would appear to be equally applicable to graduate dental surgeons.
Secondly our Faculty of Health Sciences provides more scope than ever before to work inter-professionally in this way. I found my time as a reviewer within this BEME team invaluable as it helped to develop new research skills and I am now leading a multi-professional BEME review that includes members from across the Faculty. Building networks of like-minded colleagues helps to maintain a community of practice that supports the teaching of important competences to create successful professional graduates. Research such as BEME reviews are essential to synthesise the evidence and support best practice and I would recommend the process to anyone with an interest in systematic reviews and educational research.
Cake M, Bell M, Williams JC, Brown F, Dozier M, Rhind S, Baillie S. 2016. Which professional (non-technical) competencies are most important to the success of graduate veterinarians? A Best Evidence Medical Education (BEME) systematic review: BEME Guide No. 38. Med Teach (in press).