Unhealthy diversion

June 29, 2017

I have a great deal of sympathy with the views of Philip Chan about the diversion of funds from teaching student doctors to research (“Medical education is a rich patient at risk of being bled dry”, Opinions, 15 June).

I wish it was otherwise in Scotland or in dentistry, but sadly I believe that it is no different. In more than 35 years as a clinical teacher, I have seen a gradual, but steady, diminution in the resources for training student dentists. The clinical experience of the students has also markedly reduced. In my view, this reflects not just a lack of investment but also the diversion of resources away from clinical training towards research. There is little incentive for ambitious young academic doctors or dentists to be overly concerned with teaching undergraduates or treating patients. The quickest way to become a professor is to focus on research. This approach will be encouraged by the university, and the mundane matter of training the medical or dental student can be left to unspecified others. Universities have a responsibility to address this issue and to ensure that funds are not inappropriately diverted.

John R. Drummond
Senior lecturer/consultant
School of Dentistry/NHS Tayside
University of Dundee

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