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Developing the next generation of academic primary care talent is a core mission of the Department. Dr David Nunan leads the co-ordination of Final Honour Schools (FHS) projects for Year 3 students. Here, he shares the success of the programme.

David Nunan © University of Oxford

The GMC’s 2018 document, ‘Outcomes for Graduates’, stipulates that “newly qualified doctors must be able to apply scientific method and approaches to medical research and integrate these with a range of sources of information used to make decisions for care.”

The Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences is leading the way with this remit. Embedding our world-leading research into our teaching demonstrates to our students that we don’t just talk the talk. Research skills development is another area where we walk the walk.

For students undertaking the standard six-year medical course, their third year affords the opportunity to undertake a research project. This contributes to the Final Honours School (FHS) phase of their degree. Departmental colleagues have been involved in supporting FHS projects since their inception. In 2014, the department adopted a new, more coordinated strategy led by Mike Moher (then Academic Lead), Kamal Mahtani and David Nunan to increase the number and uptake of FHS projects. A key part of this strategy was a bespoke page on the department intranet for potential supervisors and students.

The first year of the new strategy saw submission of 19 projects from the department, though uptake was low (30%). But doing what we do best – world-leading research that matters – and with the amazing students we are fortunate to work with – the situation rapidly improved. A demonstration of our success is exemplified in our students work being accepted for presentation at national conferences and published in peer-review journals. A credit to our colleagues and students.

Even a global pandemic can’t hold us back! This year we have our largest cohort of students completing their FHS project with us – 12. This is the second highest across all the division departments. The continued success of our FHS programme is one we should be rightly proud of. Not least, by the impact we are having on the students we teach. As one student has said, “Primary Care research has such clinical relevance, I’m sure that the skills I’ve learnt carrying out this research project will be useful once I qualify as a doctor; my experience here has definitely made me consider doing primary care research alongside being a practising doctor.”

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