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A Virtual Academic Unit—the first 10 years
  1. A N Williams
  1. Correspondence to Dr A N Williams, Virtual Academic Unit, CDC, Northampton General Hospital, Northampton NN1 5BD, UK; anw{at}doctors.org.uk

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“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.” Ernest Hemingway1

I wish to suggest a structure of a paediatric Virtual Academic Unit (VAU). In Northampton we have run an unfunded VAU from 2004 and have published under the VAU title since 2008, after our first BMJ paper.2 It has an entirely internet-based structure which is of considerable potential interest and opportunity given the ongoing revolution in information technology. The VAU is open to all who have an interest in medicine, medical science and medical history/humanities. The VAU demonstrates that anyone can be involved in advancing the care of children through discovery and scholarship, including those traditionally disenfranchised from significant medical/medical humanities research opportunities such as non-medical healthcare professionals, parents, patients and non-teaching hospital healthcare professionals (figure 1).

Figure 1

The shield of the Virtual Academic Unit drawn by Mrs Nicola Scudamore.

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