Author: Arulanandam S and Yip L Publication Year: 2013
Summary: This study looks at the impact of the functional model on the psychiatric training of undergraduate medical students with the aim of investigating if recent changes in service delivery affect medical student's educational experience in psychiatry and in turn the recruitment of doctors in psychiatry.
Description: An increasing number of mental health trusts in the UK are replacing the geographically sectorised model of service delivery with a functional one ( 1). The Psychiatric Trainees Committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists acknowledges that the breadth of clinical experience may be limited in the functional model unless core training in various service settings is ensured (2).

There is no doubt that medical students’ educational experience of psychiatry plays a great role in determining whether they choose a career in psychiatry (3). Additionally, the changes in the organization of mental healthcare, including more treatment in the community, preventive psychiatry and psychosocial interventions, challenge conventional roles in medicine and this may deter doctors who favor working in hospital settings (4). It is therefore crucial to generate interests in psychiatry in medical students doing their placement and to provide them with access to a variety of clinical experiences.

Several studies have looked into the impact of the functional model on psychiatric training but no such studies have been conducted on undergraduate medical students. All the recent changes in service delivery can have a detrimental effect on students’ placement and in turn recruitment of doctors in psychiatry. Therefore it is important for us to evaluate the current undergraduate training system in psychiatry.

Avon and Wiltshire Partnership Mental Health NHS Trust (AWP) provides undergraduate training to third year medical students studying in the University of Bristol. Each year, four batches of students are allocated to various geographical areas within AWP to do an eight weeks placement in psychiatry. In North Bristol, the model of service delivery was changed to a functional one in late 2011. Students doing their psychiatric placement in North Bristol are allocated to a site tutor, an educational supervisor and a mentor. The main teaching sites in North Bristol are Southmead Hospital and Blackberry Hill Hospital. However, students are required to travel across the whole of Bristol in order to have a wide variety of clinical experiences and to complete their logbook.

Medical students raised concerns on their learning experience with the functional model of service delivery through informal feedback and a decision was made to conduct a survey to look into the impact of this model on undergraduate psychiatric training.

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