Post-graduate medical education

Me-ed brag board

Strategy design: Anne Bartlett-Bragg

Organisation: Post-graduate medical education college

UX design: Ripple Effect Group team


A provider of post-graduate medical education, The College, is responsible for the training and assessment of doctors to further their careers in a broad range of speciality fields. The College recognised that their educational offerings required a strategic review to enable the development of new and innovative approaches to learning with technologies, eLearning, in an increasingly complex environment.

In 2013, the Ripple Effect Group was engaged to review and develop an eLearning strategy for the future delivery and support of post-graduate programs. The review covered three phases: research, feedback and analysis for validation, and recommendations.

Phase 1 Research: In order to develop a deep understanding of the people involved and the complexity of medical education settings, a human-centred design research approach informed the critical elements in the first phase of the project.

  • A rapid ethnographic study over a 3-month period immersed the research team with trainees and supervisors in their workplace context, predominantly in hospital conditions across Australia and New Zealand. Techniques such as direct observation of ward rounds; shadowing people throughout their day; informal discussions during meal breaks; attendance of lectures or other education sessions; review of materials; and participation in briefing sessions provided a rich set of raw data and experiences.

Phase 2 Analysis and Feedback: The research team collated and de-briefed the raw data using visual thinking techniques that mapped the experiences. The objective was to determine the specific nuances, constraints and challenges in a hospital training environment identifying opportunities where innovative techniques and technologies could provide a practical alternative to current methods. These visual assets, listed below, were used during consultation review sessions to engage with the broader physician community and validate research findings against the various contexts and experiences.

  • Personas –  A series of authentic personas were constructed to represent characteristics of groups at different stages in their careers.
  • Learning Journeys – scenarios relating to specific educational situations – were created to illustrate the understanding of contexts and to guide the development of recommendations for the future state learning programs.

Following the consultations, the feedback was synthesised into the initial analysis and updates to the visual assets were applied.

Phase 3 Recommendations: The information gathered during Phase 1 and 2 were presented as detailed reports and further supported by analysis of medical education globally.

  • Current State report – detailed the research findings and analysis of the current state.
  • Best in Class Medical Education – highlighted global best in class practices and initiatives.
  • Organisational Analysis report – detailed the theoretical application of the learning initiatives examined and made recommendations that identified current and future roles required within The College to contribute to sustainable future changes.
  • Future of Learning report – a strategy that identified the core elements and actions to enable The College to transform their offerings. The recommendations and implementation steps were presented to and accepted by the executive through the power of the visual assets to illustrate how the new initiatives would be experienced and delivered in a future state scenario.

Moral of the story – 3 key learning points:

  1. Human-centred design provides insights into people that cannot be uncovered by traditional surveys, focus groups or interviews.
  2. Visual assets created from the research findings enable people to understand and connect concepts that may be too abstract to grasp in traditional written documentation.
  3. Engagement across all levels of The College ensure research findings are validated from more than one perspective.

Other outcomes:

The visual assets developed have become an integral communication and engagement tool across The College. Working groups, committees and educational designers are constantly reviewing new initiatives against the set of authentic persona to validate that all relevant aspects have been considered and addressed.