May 20, 2021, by mszrm4
Medical Education: It’s not quite surfing
This blog is written by one of our current scholars on the MedEd course at Nottingham
Luck comes in many forms, and sometimes it looks awfully like your plans crashing and burning around you.
After the stresses of the Foundation Programme, I was looking forward to nothing more than spending my ‘F3’ year sunning myself on a Queensland beach. The hours of paperwork (and Skype interviews at unholy hours – thanks time difference!) finally looked set to pay off: I would be flying out to start my new life as an Aussie ‘SHO’ in September.
Enter Covid-19 and its trail of destruction.
I soon found myself facing the decidedly less exciting prospect of another dreary British winter, and – what’s more – looking terrifyingly unemployed. But, in the immortal words of Jeff Goldblum, “life, uh…finds a way”. A casual late-night perusal of the local jobs boards led me to my current role: Medical Education Fellow in Curriculum Development at the University of Nottingham. It wasn’t quite surfing, but it had a certain ring to it.
I’d enjoyed teaching throughout my medical school career, and even trained as a secondary school teacher after qualifying, having convinced myself that medicine wasn’t for me. But I’d never really thought about “how” to teach medical students: naively, my own experiences had led me to believe that if you just put the firehose in front of them, they’d drink from it.
Take home message:
“I’d never really thought about “how” to teach medical students: naively, my own experiences had led me to believe that if you just put the firehose in front of them, they’d drink from it”
Working as a MEF quickly taught me that wasn’t the case, and perhaps nowhere was this more evident than the curriculum. Through my PGCert, I learnt that a curriculum is deeply context-dependent: it “should simply be fit for the purpose and context of its place and day” (Grant, 2019). The “context” in Nottingham was an overflowing bucketful of knowledge-based learning objectives which left little room for developing professional skills and behaviours. Rebalancing this over the course of the past year has been no mean feat, but I feel privileged to be in a position – not 5 years out of medical school myself – to be making a lasting difference for the next generation.
Medical education is far from theoretical: the principles we learn can have a tangible impact on our students’ experience of their formative years at medical school, and my time on the PGCert has whet my appetite for more. Although my time at the university is ending and I’ll soon be leaving to pursue pastures new (the darkened rooms and bottomless espressos of Clinical Radiology training), my med ed journey has only just begun.
I never thought I’d say it, but here goes: thank you, Covid. While you’ve taken so much, you’ve set me on a journey I’d never considered. And I definitely look better in a good book than a wetsuit.
Dr Josh Ward BMBS BMedSci (Hons) PGCE, is a current scholar on the Medical Education course at Nottingham and a Medical Education Fellow in Curriculum Development, University of Nottingham
Join us on the Nottingham MedEd course: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/pgstudy/course/taught/medical-education-mmedsci
Grant, J (2019). Principles of Curriculum Design. In Swanwick, Forrest and O’Brien (eds.) Understanding Medical Education: Evidence, Theory, and Practice (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 71-88
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