Input of students in the curriculum has led to an increasing acceptance of the importance and relevance of health promotion, public health and global health.
SUBMITTED BY: Ann Wylie
Most of us in medical education are continually encouraged by the enthusiasm and abilities of our students, especially when students show innovation with electives and special student components.
We have valued student input into the development of our health promotion and public health curriculum. As we teach about behavioural change and policy implementation for example, drawing on best evidence, we have noted that health professionals are not necessarily familiar with current policy and approaches. With the help of students we have been able to set up a number of small scale projects, working with our community partners to strengthen their health promoting skills and de facto, their teaching.
We currently have a student looking at anti-bullying policies and how to strengthen the implementation of these to promote mental health and well being in areas of deprivation. Another group of students are piloting, with a community based team of GPs and midwives in partnership with consultant obstetricians, a protocol, for management of obesity in pregnancy. One student is following up on a falls prevention programme and how mental capacity hinders the implementation. Senior students have also looked at and advised on health care provision in prison, the limited knowledge base about fertility awareness and natural family planning methods, the limitations of breast feeding initiatives and campaigns, engaged with heart health initiatives and provided constructive feedback. We have also had one student research the health status of medical students and junior doctors, presenting the findings to a senior cohort of medical students to enable them to contemplate behaviour change of necessary.
All their work is potentially publishable and will inform what is feasible for core curriculum teaching. The students gain skills in drafting projects or research proposals, preparing ethical approval applications, negotiating with a wide group of stakeholders, writing to high academic standards and presenting their work to critical audiences.
But the main gain for us has been an increasing acceptance of the importance and relevance of Health Promotion, Public health, and now Global Health, in core curriculum. The high standard of work by many of these student researchers has shown to be a catalyst for the acceptance and interest in a topic area that has for too many years be marginalised or seen as dry and dull. Students now look at careers options that include Public health aspects in increasing numbers, and many contribute to the development and piloting of teaching resources.
Now that health promotion is established in core curricula, our task is to keep it there, keep up to date and be innovative with teaching methods and share and learn from each other.