Local focus at new medic school

September 26, 2003

Twins Samantha and Louise Queen are part of a new breed of students expecting a different sort of medical training at the Hull York Medical School, which opened this week.

The 18-year-olds, from nearby Market Weighton, opted to study medicine at their local university because they found it stood out from other more established institutions. "We visited a lot of other places, but this seemed genuinely new and exciting, more relevant to us," Louise said.

The school, a partnership between the universities of Hull and York and the National Health Service, is a key part of national efforts to increase the number of doctors and to modernise medical education. North Yorkshire, East Riding and Northern Lincolnshire was the largest area in England not to have a medical school and it is hoped that the HYMS will have a positive effect on recruitment and healthcare in the region.

Some 15 per cent of entrants to the school are mature students, more than half are female and 20 per cent are from the local area.

Students will work in the community from the beginning of their course, which emphasises evidence-based treatments as well as the development of communication skills. Teaching methods will favour problem-based learning, a technique that has been gaining popularity within the medical establishment and is attracting students as well. "We really liked the idea of being self-motivated learners rather than sitting in lectures all the time," Samantha said.

Students will attend just one lecture a day, with the majority of learning focused on practical rather than theoretical knowledge, using "patient simulators" who undertake roleplays to develop students' diagnostic skills.

Bill Gillespie, dean of the school, said: "HYMS will be providing a world-class opportunity to study an exciting and forward-thinking curriculum. Many things will be done for the first time over the next five years, but the input of the very first students will be invaluable in getting the details right."

Graham Rich, chief executive of the West Hull Primary Care Trust, said he hoped many of the new medics would remain in the region after qualifying.

"Spending so much time working closely with patients from the outset will produce doctors who understand people's lives and communities," he said.

Robert Markham of Selby and York Primary Care Trust said the arrival of the medical school would make clinical practice more interesting as students would introduce an element of challenge and questioning. "Doctors in primary and community care will also be learning as they teach. This can only be of benefit to our patients," he said.

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