Information for Consultants new to Partnership Teaching at UHCW


This is written as a brief overview since it is no longer always practical for me to meet and discuss things at length with every new consultant. It is not official dogma, but my interpretation and emphasis, for which no apologies. Everyone likes the idea of teaching students and thinks they are good at it, but no-one feels they actually have the time they would like to do it in. What is a realistic minimum and how do they come etc..

The clinical course (‘Phase 2’) consists of 12 eight week blocks. A few are specific (Paeds, O&G, Psychiatry) and most of the rest are ‘general’ . They are not formally taught every parcel of knowledge or even skill in a sequence. As adult learners, they are expected to work their way round what is their target as opportunities arise and take responsibility for ensuring that they have seen and learnt about most things by the time they get to the end. Therefore, whilst with you they may see a somewhat narrowed view of your specialty but should broaden this with initiative. They may attend other consultants’ clinics (after asking), find juniors and others to teach them also and attend tutorials organised to cover broader areas. Nonetheless, it is felt important that they are apprenticed to you, not just stuck into your department, and learn how you think and behave as a whole doctor (if you do). There is an 80 page handbook which spells out the main subject areas they must cover (written as competencies) to which you can link. It is helpful. You can find it on the medical school website: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/med.

They come in pairs, two pairs of consultants. One of whom will participate in acute emergency medicine/surgery/orthopaedics and the other will be in an unrelated specialty. Thus they accumulate repeated emergency experience and time in most specialties, but not quite all. During an average week they should attend 2-3 sessions with the ‘generalist’ and about 2 with the ‘specialist’: in clinics, ward rounds and (a little of) theatre. They will also spend some time milking the relevant junior staff and attending related and unrelated tutorials (e.g. pathology, neurology or X ray). They need time to write up cases and have a weekly half day of formal topic teaching in the Clinical Sciences Building.

We hope that you will, as a minimum:

• Receive them in your clinic. They like to clerk and present cases to you, if possible, not just follow admiringly behind. It will slow you down and you will need to cut numbers a bit. We are a teaching hospital now.
• Let them attend ward rounds. Opinions vary about whether and how to separate business and teaching rounds.
• Spend part of one session talking to them by yourself. This could be going over a case study they have written up- they have to do 32 of these altogether in a rigid format described in the book. You could take them to the bedside and teach (their favourite), or sit and discuss a topic. Above all, try to listen to how they are getting on and how you can help.

• Enjoy it most of the time

I have a few hobby horses:

• Please try to meet them ASAP on arrival and make them feel at home. Then they may do their own thing a fair bit, which is their prerogative, particularly as they get more senior and choosy about what to do with their time.
• Try to make sure all available junior staff feel involved and take their share. It goes on their CV! Students are lazy to stay around for emergencies and expert and pretending not to know when ‘on take’. Don’t stand for it.
• A colleague in your area is designated as ‘lead’ for your specialty (see list) and is likely to be organising some regular tutorials for your specialty. Try to contribute to these and not to stand them up.
• They most value you observing them doing history and examination. It sounds tedious but is very beneficial. 
• Please volunteer to be an examiner and do the training course for this, since you will then realise their exams focus almost totally on this situation.

I am keen to discuss difficulties and changes, even if impossible. Damien Trent and staff in the Undergraduate Office of the Clinical Sciences Building try to keep in close touch of day to day issues and are there to help.

Ian Fraser June 2009

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