METM10 presentation     Thread: Promising practices

Closing the distance gap – approaches for networking among MET members on joint projects

Jonathan McFarland & Alison Turner -” Soller, Majorca, and Málaga, Spain

Background: The authors, both relatively new MET members, have been co-operating over the past 18 months to devise an online educational programme for Spanish GPs working on the mainland coastline and on the islands and who require sound English-language skills to communicate effectively with their non Spanish-speaking patients.

Jon lives and works in Mallorca while Alison is based in Málaga - a mere distance of around 700 km!! This obviously posed major difficulties for face-to-face meetings that would normally be held to discuss the optimal approach for the course, to organise, share and review work on devising the learning content, and to make suitable arrangements for the launch of the project. This distance has successfully been overcome thanks to IT and communications technologies.

Purpose: During the presentation we wish to explain how we have co-operated with other MET members as well as different organisations and professionals in the health-care sector and what this has meant to the success of the training project. We feel this approach could open up many opportunities for co-operation on a broader scale within MET for networking towards future joint projects of different kinds.

Session content: In the presentation, the authors will explain what communication and IT technologies have been used for each stage of the project, how the learning content has been developed jointly and how the final course will be supported by various outside organisations.

The first pilot course will be run for a group of 10 GPs in September 2010. The authors will report on the outcome of this first run with details of all lessons learned and what vital points should be borne in mind by others attempting to mimic this approach.

We believe that this presentation could be of interest to any MET members involved in training for health-care professionals or interested in networking on joint projects across borders.


Jonathan McFarland has been working for the last 8 years in English Communication in Medicine; his basic aim is to help medical professionals improve their communication in English. He is currently working on a number of different projects, one of which is a new association dedicated to promoting the humanities within biomedicine. He lives in Soller, a small town hidden in the Tramuntana mountains of Mallorca with his wife, two daughters, dog and cats.

Alison Turner has been a free-lance interpreter specialising in medical conferences since 1989. She is currently implementing biomedical communication projects for her own company, Medical Expression (ME). ME provides customised face-to face English-language training for Spanish physicians and is currently developing an online teaching platform to include training for medical researchers. Alison lives with her partner and step-son just outside Málaga, where the garden is a haven to recharge the batteries!