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Health Inequalities and Medical Education Special Study Modules

Medical schools are encouraged to have some space in the curriculum to allow students to explore some subjects of their choice in greater depth - this is to encourage personal interests and in depth learning. At Imperial College London, final year specialty choice modules give students time to do just this; they run for 3 weeks at a time and repeat continuously from August to February so that as many students as possible have the opportunity to undertake these modules. Dr Ros Herbert, Health Inequalities and Medical Education Course Lead, describes her experience of establishing two new special study modules.

In the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at Imperial College London, we have recently created two such modules, one in Health Inequalities and one in Medical Education. In the Health Inequalities, module students have had the opportunity to spend time in homeless clinics, refugee clinics, in a Southall surgery, with a prison doctor and in a teenage pregnancy centre. They have done a reflective arts piece to process some of the suffering that they have witnessed and they report back that they have been so struck by how hard it can be for these marginalised groups to access care. Some have had the opportunity to do advocacy work; others have written open letters to other students to look into people’s journeys and how they became homeless. In our other Medical Education module, students join the department for 3 weeks, help with teaching and support curriculum design projects.

Medical Student Eirene Yeung talks about her experience:

"In September, another final year student and I joined the department for a 3 week course in Medical Education. This module was created to provide further opportunity to develop teaching skills and to foster interest in a future in medical education. We had the chance to redesign part of the Year 1 Society and Health Module, something that we experienced as Year 1 students many years ago. We then helped give some of the lectures we had designed with Dr Jens Foell and will continue involvement in that course throughout the year.

We also had loads of teaching experience: we planned and delivered teaching of junior students in the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, including 3rd year Clinical Methods Teaching and the 5th year Psychiatry and Dermatology rotations. Faculty were able to give us formal teaching observations and feedback of these sessions which really helped us hone our teaching skills and improve within the three weeks. We really felt part of the team and highly recommend this option to any other students who are interested in medical education."

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