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Partnered Educational Governance: Rethinking Student Agency in Undergraduate Medical Education

Bilodeau, Philippe Antoine; Liu, Xin Mei; Cummings, Beth-Ann MD, MSc

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002777
Perspectives
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Historically, students have been “consumers” of undergraduate medical education (UME) rather than stakeholders in its design and implementation. Student input has been retrospective, and although UME leaders have been open to feedback, matters most important to students have often been overlooked, leaving students feeling largely unheard. Student representation has also lacked structure and unity of feedback.

A vision for effective student representation drove the creation of a partnered educational governance (PEG) model at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where sharing of expertise between student representatives and UME leadership has improved the UME program and the educational experience of students.

The PEG model is grounded in the literature on student government, the student-as-partner framework, and theories of accountability. As part of the model, the student Medical Education Committee, an organized structure for discussion and reporting to student constituents, was established. This structure allows student representatives, entrusted by their peers and faculty, to proactively provide input to UME committees in the development of policies and curricula. The partnership between students and faculty facilitates a shared understanding of educational challenges and potential solutions.

Within the first year, meaningful changes associated with the PEG model included increased student engagement in key program decisions, such as the redesign of a research course and an update to the absences and leaves policy. The PEG model enables unified student representation that is accountable and representative—and has a significant impact on outcomes—while maintaining the UME program’s ownership of and responsibility for the curriculum and policies.

P.A. Bilodeau is a fourth-year medical student, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2672-554X.

X.M. Liu is a fourth-year medical student, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

B.-A. Cummings is associate dean for undergraduate medical education, associate professor, Department of Medicine, and member, Centre for Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6565-6930.

The authors have informed the journal that they agree that both Philippe Antoine Bilodeau and Xin Mei Liu completed the intellectual and other work typical of the first author.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Beth-Ann Cummings, McIntyre Medical Bldg., 3655 Promenade Sir-William-Osler, Montreal, QC H3G 0B1, Canada; telephone: (514) 398-3519; email: beth.cummings@mcgill.ca.

Copyright © 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges