A few months ago we were making preparations for the Donors’ Thanksgiving Ceremony, which we hold every few years. This is an event in which our students and staff get together with families and friends of those who have made donations to our Centre for Learning Anatomical Sciences, to publically express our thanks to the families of those who have donated their bodies to the Anatomical Sciences facility to help us train tomorrow’s doctors. In the event this year’s ceremony did not go ahead, but it triggered me thinking about just how much our medical school relies on patients, the public and our friends in the wider community.
Currently we are running Objective Structured Clinical Examinations, OSCEs. Many of the stations have real, or simulated, patients. Some of the allocated marks are awarded by the patients, reflecting their rating of a candidate’s communication skills, such a crucial competency for good clinical practice. We also have lay representatives on our medical student Recruitment and Selection Committee and greatly appreciate the many lay members on our student admissions selection panels, who bring their insights and life experiences into the demanding task of choosing who, amongst the thousands of applicants, should be offered a place at our medical school.
Aside from the vast numbers of patients and carers who interact with our students each year on clinical placements, patients and carers are also involved in seminars and lectures in the early years’ teaching, often providing real highlights of the educational activity in these years. Just recently, at the joint annual meeting of the General Medical Council and Medical Schools’ Council on issues in Student Fitness to Practise, there was a thought provoking session on the involvement of patients and carers not only in medical student disciplinary panels, but also in remediation for students whose behaviour has given cause for concern. Perhaps we should explore this further?
Patient and public involvement is a huge part of our medical school life. I’m not sure that we give enough thought to saying thank you to all of those who support us in these various ways. I wonder if we should aim to develop some form of annual or bi-annual event in which we, alongside our current students, publically say thank you and acknowledge all the input from our local community. One idea may be to develop a small patch of garden here on the UHS site, with a plaque acknowledging our medical school’s thanks to all those patients and public who contribute to our course. We could engage volunteers (staff, public and students) to tend the patch.
Please get in touch with me with your ideas – we have much to celebrate and to say thank you for.