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The University of Southampton
Medical Education

Patient involvement in BM programmes

Published: 4 June 2012

The Faculty of Medicine is undertaking a review of the BM programmes, to be completed by the end of 2012.

The Faculty of Medicine is undertaking a review of the BM programmes, to be completed by the end of 2012. The General Medical Council (GMC) is very clear that patients should be involved in undergraduate education; and whilst there is a lot of experience of patient involvement in the delivery of education, and to a lesser extent in assessment, there is little guidance about how they should be involved in curriculum design. (GMC, 2010). An Australian study invited lay people to participate in  curriculum design but encountered difficulty in translating the issues of what patients thought students should learn to how that should happen, as well as encouraging participants to think beyond their personal experiences to a wider view of medical education  (O'Keefe and Jones, 2007).

As part of the curriculum review process, a group composed  of curriculum development leads, academics, simulated patient representatives, research ‘Patient and Public Involvement' champions, and communications experts got together for a three hour meeting at the end of May 2012. Although patient representatives had been invited to this meeting, sadly the three we had expected were not well enough to attend.

The session was facilitated by Dr Faith Hill.

The group were able to examine various ways in which patients can be involved in medical education; consider how patients are involved in research bids and study design and operation; and begin to develop a draft model of how patients could be involved in the undergraduate curriculum.

The model acknowledges that individuals can move between roles and at times occupy more than one role.

The year 1 "mother and baby" example offered is an example of how an existing interaction could be enhanced and developed: at present year 1 students are encouraged to attend a birth, and if possible arrange a follow up visit to the mother and baby at home. It might be possible to offer those mothers and babies the opportunity to maintain their link with the student and move from the "patient as patient" role to the "patient as co-educator" role as the student progresses through the programme, possibly even taking a role in due course as "patient as curriculum leader" . Progression to the latter two roles would each require training, preparation and support.

The final stage of the meeting focussed on "moving it forwards": priorities are

  • Appoint a lead for this area
  • Establish a working group with patients/ students/ staff to develop a strategy
  • Establish and document a rationale for why and how

Other themes which emerged were:

  • Enhancing the role of "patients as patients" in various ways : involvement of trusts
  • Researching students' developing understanding of why the patient voice matters
  • Embedding Patient and Public Involvement as a learning outcome in itself.

It is proposed that the Faculty of Medicine approaches the GMC to discuss how some of these initiatives could be taken forwards.


Louise Dubras

Lead for BM programmes revalidation

June 2012.



GMC. 2010. Patient and Public Involvement in undergraduate medical education. Available:

O'KEEFE, M. & JONES, A. 2007. Promoting lay participation  in medical school curricuulm development: lay and faculty perceptions. Medical Education, 41, 130-137


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