Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 623–638 | Cite as

The invisible work of distributed medical education: exploring the contributions of audiovisual professionals, administrative professionals and faculty teachers

  • Anna MacLeodEmail author
  • Olga Kits
  • Karen Mann
  • Jonathan Tummons
  • Keith W. Wilson


Distributed medical education (DME) is becoming increasingly prevalent. Much of the published literature on DME has focused on the experiences of learners in distributed programs; however, our empirical work leads us to believe that DME changes the context significantly, not only for learners, but also for other important members of the educational community including audiovisual professionals, administrative professionals and faculty teachers. Based on a three-year ethnographic study, we provide a detailed account of how alliances between various workers involved in DME develop to produce and deliver an undergraduate medical curriculum across geographically separate campuses. We explore the question ‘What is the work involved in the delivery of a DME program?’ and cast a critical gaze on the essential but invisible, and therefore potentially unrecognized and underappreciated, contributions of AV professionals, administrative professionals, and faculty teachers. Our goal is to make visible the complexity of DME, including the essential contributions of these workers. The study was theoretically framed in sociomateriality and conceptually framed in Star and Strauss’ notion of articulation work.


Administrative professionals Articulation work Audiovisual professionals Distributed medical education Ethnography Faculty teachers Sociomaterial 



We are most grateful to the individuals who participated in our research. We also appreciate the contributions of our broader research team: Fiona Bergin, Peggy Alexiadis Brown, Shelley Doucet, Tara Fenwick, Cathy Fournier, Blye Frank, Marie Matte, Grace Paterson, Gregory Power, Joan Sargeant, Preston Smith and Emma Whelan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna MacLeod
    • 1
    Email author
  • Olga Kits
    • 1
  • Karen Mann
    • 1
  • Jonathan Tummons
    • 2
  • Keith W. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.School of EducationDurham UniversityDurhamUK

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