“Marmite” stands for a polarising phenomenon – you either love it or hate it. No in between. Black or white, no grey. Society and Health occupies a similar position in students’ opinions across universities in the medical curriculum. Students’ preferences for a career in medicine (and possibly the selction process?) is often anchored in their affiliation to natural sciences. Social sciences have a problematic place, if seen in contrast and in parallel with natural sciences. In collaboration with colleagues delivering natural sciences in the undergraduate curriculum we have addressed this situation and introduced the new version of “Society and Health” in combination with suggestions for study skills and a change of the assessment format. This format is geared towards an authentic assessment with potential to augment students’ experiences in clinical situations and exam situations further on in their career. “Society and Health” spans the arch from patients (individuals) to people (social groups) to populations (subject of Public Health) and therefore bridges the divide between looking after individuals and researching populations.
This theme is explored through the lens of personal encounters with members of the public, who are willing to share their stories as patients in order to enable students to look at medicine through a sociological lens as part of their “education sentimentale”. This format is staple diet in our undergraduate menu – like Corn Flakes on a breakfast table. Only refinements have been necessary this year. Students write their structured write-up, tutors have a special workshop to assist them in rating students’ works and the formative e-portfolio work has been simplified. Fingers crossed that it addresses students’ and tutors’ needs!
Dr Jens, course lead FCA and S&H