Art of Facilitation: My Perspective (Manisha Asrani)
If I had to describe medicine using a single word, I would use exciting.
Exciting because in the past 3 years I learnt anatomy from cadavers, biochemistry from test tubes who whispered their chemical reactions in the lab, microbiology from microorganisms while they danced under the microscope and medicine by listening to patients. The journey has made me realise that being a doctor is exciting.
Teaching and learning interpersonal skills (also called Human Skills) have become a central focus of the ever-evolving curriculum. These are covered in great detail on the Glocal Academy website (www.glocalacademy.org).
Here I'll focus on the Art of Facilitation.
Oxford English Dictionary defines a Facilitator as a "person who helps somebody do something more easily by discussing problems, giving advice rather than telling them what to do." Being a student facilitator with Glocal Academy, I have experienced the magic of facilitation and seen the definition come true. Based on my observation and experience of facilitation I can debate on the significance of facilitation, but I won't precisely because I've come to an understanding that no one wins if no one listens.
Why do I want to talk about facilitation?
Traditionally, debates, didactic teaching and rote learning are the prevalent teaching and learning activities. While they have their place, relying only on them is not conducive to continuous professional development. We need effective small group learning. For small group learning to be productive they must be facilitated by an expert facilitator. Hence, learning about the art of facilitation is important.
Facilitation has helped me to be more accepting towards my peers, I am more conscious towards them and understand that respect is the highest virtue I can imbibe as a person. Learning facilitation can seem daunting but becomes easier with practice and continuous efforts.
To help you parachute facilitation as a tool for effective learning I have devised the 'Triple S' strategy. This strategy aims to bring to your awareness the possibilities you can encounter while engaged in dialogue and how to turn them into an opportunity to connect and impart learning in a way that is respectful, effective and fun.
But before I delve into it I would like to take you on an imaginary long drive in a car to your favourite spot in your city.
During the journey, we talk about your memories (happy, sad and challenging) of medical school. I ask you how these Scenarioschanged your perspective and how you overcame them. You feel proud of your accomplishments and how you learnt a new skill every time you searched for accomplishments and how you learnt a new skill every time you searched for Solutions to these different experiences.
We're so engrossed in the conversation that we don't realise that the tyres of our car speedily glide on the asphalt roads, and they screech suddenly as I hit the break and Stop. The junction has a pedestrian crossing with the traffic light shining a bright
red and an old woman with a walking stick crossing the road. You get out of the
car to help her cross the road and she leaves us with a smile and a bar of
We reach our destination and were welcomed by a beautiful sunset. The whole experience filled our hearts with joy. Similarly, while facilitating learning in a small group as a facilitator we should:
Be Mindful of different SCENARIOS we might encounter. For example: while a student is sharing their experience, a peer might interject with their views unprompted.
Encourage students to find SOLUTIONS. For example: what you could do to ease both is set a ground-rule and encourage students to avoid speaking out of turn.
Realise the right time to STOP. For example: in the above scenario you shouldn't shame the peer for expressing themselves, instead make them understand that respectful listening is beneficial and productive. The magical sunset at the end of your journey is the consequence of the efforts of a good facilitator.
Just like any other skill the art of facilitation enhances our holistic development as future clinicians by ensuring dialogue that not only improves interpersonal relationships but also helps to gain deeper insights into the subject of discussion.
It enables us to proceed one step forward towards our collective goal of becoming an effective communicator and a true professional/clinician.