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Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has made life more difficult in so many ways, it has forced us to refresh and reinvent our teaching. With human contact so fundamental to medicine, it was daunting to contemplate how we might educate our students from a distance. Still, Mr Shakespeare’s suggestion “to make a virtue of necessity” turns out to be excellent advice. We have made changes which are not only receiving very positive student feedback, but are likely to lead to further exciting developments in future.

Communication skills

Dr Ruth Wilson has worked extremely hard to convert the Year Four Communication Skills Course to a remote format, using Microsoft Teams. She has led the vanguard with our department’s video teaching, adapting her course in time to start delivering sessions in June. The teaching is receiving very positive feedback from students, who are enjoying the chance to both develop their communication skills and begin to learn video consulting techniques. She has been very ably supported by her excellent band of tutors and our fantastic admin team.

Year 5

The Year 5 Course has been substantially re-written and adapted to take account of changes resulting from the pandemic. Whilst core knowledge requirements remain unchanged, we have converted seminars to interactive online learning modules, which students report as an excellent change. The online learning is being supported by weekly small-group tutorials, delivered via Teams.

Placements in practices have been adapted to make them more flexible in the current climate. Students are now undertaking “GP options” in the afternoons, including getting more involved in day-to-day aspects of general practice. Students are doing audit, chronic disease reviews and diabetic clinics. All this was piloted by medical student volunteers during the break in their studies. We will evaluate all aspects of these new components as we plan for the new academic year starting in September. Thank you to all Year 5 tutors, who are providing such a valuable experience for our students in these difficult times.

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