Sunday, 29 June 2014

HEA Powerful Partnerships Summit

On Wednesday this week, I attended the Higher Education Academy's Powerful Partnerships summit in London. It was a day to explore how partnerships (between many different people, but you can guess that I was there championing patient partnerships!) can support and promote excellence in medical and healthcare education in the UK. There were plenty of tweets during the day (#ppsummit) and food for thought. I was asked to present providing a patient perspective on what needs to change in education of health care professionals.

I had three main points: culture; curriculum; and comprehension at university need to be person-centred, if we want a workforce to graduate and deliver person-centered care.

The culture of these universities and institutions needs to be more person-centred. Such a culture needs to be championed by all members of staff. I remember from being a medical student going from one lecture on communication skills to a ward with a consultant who didn't embody anything I had be taught in the hour before. When lecturing (on the biopsychosocial model), I'm aware that often my students have come straight from another lecture championing the biomedical model. It must be tiring and confusing to have such extremes within a day of learning. Strong role models that can champion person-centred care are key. But many members of staff that students meet at university are role models for elements of their professional practice beyond the clinics. Education, research and policy for example, are all taught and practiced by these university staff. I'd love to see them as role models for students to involve patients in every aspect of their professional lives from ward rounds to board rooms. If universities create a person-centered culture where patient partnerships are the norm, those students will graduate into professional practice with a great grounding. One of the later speakers used the term "cultural architects" which sums it up - while organic, culture can still be created by people, and patients!

What should be taught within the curriculum on a particular condition? Shouldn't those living with those conditions have a say? The curriculum has to cover the science, and the medical, because they are essential, but do those curriculums cover enough of the broader issues surrounding those conditions? There are enough tools out there to support a more person-centered curriculum, with patient blogs having validity on reading lists, Twitter chats and Skype lecturing all helping to complete the picture for students. Patient involvement in curriculum design (as well as the delivery of that curriculum) can ensure the right issues are covered, but there still remains the challenge of students and the culture of the institution places due importance on those elements.

Whilst at medical schools, I felt that I had a pretty good understanding of what a long term health condition meant. I was able to be sympathetic, and on a good day show empathy perhaps. But it stopped at that. I could understand, but not actually do anything to help. It would be great if we could have a workforce where more people were able to empathise with people living with long term conditions and have enough comprehension of the skills needed to then go one better and support them to self-manage. That actually requires a great comprehension of their role as a health care professionals, and of the individual sitting in front of them as a patient.

So it was basically all my usual arguments about patients having enormous potential when it comes to education of healthcare professionals (see previous post of the who, why, what, how, when, where of PPI in meded). But I was lucky enough to have the talk "drawn" by @New_Possibiliti!

The rest of the presentations during the day gave me a lot to think about too.
Dr Kieran Walsh from the BMJ talked about cost and value, and questioned whether we what enough about what medical education costs or to evaluate that cost. In the field of PPI in meded, I know that it is hard enough to evaluate the impact of the PPI itself, let alone bring cost into the equation. But while funding is so critical, this seems like a really important question for us to try and find out how to answer. Dr Walsh encouraged audience participation by getting us to think of a meded activity that we are involved in, the costs and how we could work out value for that cost. Compared to the simulation suites, I am a very cheap educational tool, but how do you measure the value of one lecture, or the changes to a curriculum made with contributions from many different stakeholders, some of whom are patients? We can't shy away from answering these difficult questions though!

Professor Wendy Reid from Health Education England (HEE) talked about how we need to be training professionals for their role, but noted how their role in 20 years when they are still practicing might look very different to their role today. For me, this felt like a really important point. If we want the rhetoric about self-management to become a reality, surely we should be focusing on it as part of the university education of our workforces today? It really highlights the challenges of providing excellent education for healthcare professionals that will still be practicing in 2060! She also raised an interesting point about how tools and interactions between patients and professionals can support care but also education simultaneously. Since "every healthcare event has an educational opportunity", how can we support patients to ensure that healthcare professionals take home the key points of that event that matter to the patient?

At the end of the day, we were asked to write a postcard to a learner in 2020 - someone studying to become a healthcare professionals. I posed the question on Twitter with #patientleaders, and was able to crowd source via Twitter some suggestions for the postcard to learners, from patients and people!

For me, it was a really interesting day and very helpful to become aware of the other priorities and agendas in the meded and healthcare education field... I am very focussed on this singular issue of patient leadership in this area, so to start to understand what others focus on is really helpful. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing - an excellent education system that produces the right workforce!  

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