A clinical eye - and many hats

December 2, 2005

Name : Jane Dacre

Age : Not telling.

Job : I have a lot of jobs, all related to training and assessing medical students and doctors: professor of medical education; director of the Academic Centre for Medical Education; vice-dean for assessment at the Royal Free and University College Medical School; consultant rheumatologist at the Whittington Hospital in North London; and academic vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians of London.

Salary : Never enough.

Background : I started life as a doctor but became more interested in medical education. The more problems I saw with training and education, the more interested I became. A key area of concern was that doctors' education did not equip them with the clinical skills to do the job. When I worked at St Bartholomew's Medical College, we created the UK's first Clinical Skills Centre.

Working hours and conditions : I work long but flexible hours. I have cut down my clinical responsibility to have more time for education.

Number of students and staff : We have between 360 and 400 undergraduate medical students a year on a six-year course. My main responsibility is for their final three years. Acme has about 30 staff: academics, teachers, doctors and administrators. I also share a group of 15 rheumatology students.

Biggest challenge this year : Money. With the research assessment exercise looming, medical education has to maintain standards and status.

Solutions : We are involved in several externally funded activities and we emphasise the importance of the students.

Worst moment : I feel bad during phases when teaching and teachers are undervalued.

What is your work space like? I work across three clinical sites, so have too many offices. All of them could be more swanky.

What university facilities do you use? Coffee bars and restaurants.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Yes, my colleagues are a source of solace.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with? The colleagues I just described!

How do you cope with them? By keeping positive.

Best excuse for bad behaviour you have heard? A senior colleague yelled at me, then said it was only because he cared.

Do you interact with other parts of the university? We have several interdisciplinary committees. It is reassuring to discover that we all have the same problems.

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