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It is sad that this area where teaching is of the greatest importance, is the one where the needs of the patient and the needs of the student conflict most.
While this quote from Professor Sir Roy Meadow1 dates back to 1979, the sentiment still holds, although the challenges we face in delivering high quality undergraduate teaching in today's NHS are different.
Current challenges and problems
Medical school teaching in child health has traditionally been focused on the clinical problems seen in children, as inpatients, in tertiary care teaching hospitals. In recent years there has been a move to reduce inpatient stays and develop a more ambulatory model, with children being seen in rapid access or review clinics, to try to minimise the frequency and duration of inpatient stays. It is therefore even more important that the teaching we offer in these outpatient settings is of high quality and exposes students to a wide range of paediatric health and illness profiles.
Current experiences of teaching in paediatric outpatient departments may be less than satisfactory for both students and clinicians. The traditional model of students ‘sitting in’ clinic alongside a specialist has the potential to be a powerful learning opportunity, but this may not always be realised. There may be insufficient time to teach due to the demands of service provision, a lack of available space for students to see patients on their own and, for the clinician, the feeling that there is no one else with whom to share the teaching load. Dedicated ‘teaching clinics’ are often perceived as a luxury in an NHS focused on service delivery.
To ensure quality of practice in the future care of children and young people, it is necessary that our medical students acquire competence in relating to children and their carers.
Key issues for the student
Tomorrow's Doctors2 states that …
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