Why It Matters
At the University of Manchester, patients are teachers. They interview prospective medical students, participate in teaching students, and sit on academic committees governing the medical degree.
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Making Medical Education More Patient-Centered

By Mike Briddon | Wednesday, September 7, 2016
University of Manchester patient-centered medical education

Photo credit:"Whitworth Building, Oxford Road" by Mike Peel. CC BY SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The University of Manchester in England is taking an innovative approach to making care more patient-centered — by involving patients in the training of medical students.

In 2015, Dr. Robina Shah, a senior lecturer at The University of Manchester in England, helped to create The Doubleday Centre for Patient Experience to directly involve patients and members of the public in medical education.

Patients serve a variety of roles at the university. They interview prospective medical students, participate in teaching students, and sit on academic committees governing the medical degree.

IHI Senior Project Manager Angela Zambeaux said it’s a unique approach to making care more patient-centered. “Through our work and research in this area,” Zambeaux said, “we saw this as a particularly innovative way that a university is actively engaging patients to help make medical education more person-centered.”

The Centre, which was formally opened by the Medical Director for NHS England, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, is busy recruiting more medical education partners (MEPs) — the term they give the patients working with them. In between meetings, Dr. Shah was kind enough to answer a few questions about the unique work.

IHI: Why do you believe it's important to involve patients and members of the public in medical education?

RS: The voice of patients and the public should be valued. They are the recipients of medical education and training when they use health and care services. Their involvement as experts of experience will provide vital feedback, insight, and suggestions for improvement to medical education — especially how we teach and prepare our medical students to work with patients as partners.

IHI: Why do you think this was especially important in the UK?

RS: In the UK, patient and public expectations have increased in response to reports of poor standards of health care. This has required health care professionals to be more open and honest in their approach to patients, especially when things have gone wrong. At Manchester Medical School, our medical education partners have provided our students with another level of education that grounds them in understanding the wider aspects of working in multi-professional teams. The partners help students understand that the public and the regulators see aspects of a doctor’s behaviour, such as compassionate care and patient safety, as key to providing excellent care.

IHI: Where did this idea come from? What was the impetus?

RS: I am a powerful advocate of psychosocial medicine and committed to patient and public involvement. Over two decades, I have shared my teaching expertise in this area to challenge the focus of medical education from a biomedical model of disease to one that accommodates the psychological, social, and behavioral dimensions of illness. As an academic psychologist with a lead role in promoting patient-centered education, I have valued the contribution that patients, carers, and service users have made to my learning as experts by experience. So when I became the academic lead for patient and public involvement, I was motivated by the opportunity to develop a vision and strategy that was owned, valued, and co-designed with the involvement of patients, the public, and professional colleagues.

IHI: Can you give an example of a role the medical education partners play?

RS: They play a key role in recruiting our prospective medical students, and work in partnership with our students and academic staff in various teaching and learning events across the curriculum. With regards to recruiting prospective students, our MEPs have been praised by the MMS admissions team for providing the best discriminating interview station during the recent student admissions process. Professor Brian Pollard, Academic Lead for Admissions, shared this: “We are all consumers of health care and so it was logical to introduce interviewers from outside the medical profession and teaching staff to assist in the recruitment of our doctors. I believe that using MEPs to staff one of the interview stations this year has been of great benefit to our process.”

IHI: How do you choose your medical education partners?

RS: Our medical education partners are members of the public recruited from a wide range of diverse backgrounds that is reflective of our local community with regards to race, disability, gender, sexuality, and other protected characteristics. They are all experts by experience, and committed to partnership and collaborative working to promote medical education that is inclusive and patient-centered.

IHI: Do you have plans to expand the program in the future?

RS: Our next step is to build on the progress we have made to create a national footprint that can be interpreted locally and facilitate wider conversations internationally. This year, we aim to provide increased opportunities for students to work closely with our medical education partners in a model and framework of co-production that promotes effective patient-centered education.

Editor’s Note: Find out more about the The Doubleday Centre for Patient Experience here, and learn more about patient-centered care in our course PFC 101: Introduction to Patient-Centered Care.

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