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BMA - Medical education A to Z
Category: Education > Medical education
Date & country: 15/12/2007, UK
Words: 94


Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges was established in 1976 to coordinate the work of the medical royal colleges and faculties. For further information and for links to each of the medical royal colleges, please refer to the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.

Accelerated medical degrees
In recent years, the General Medical Council (GMC has approved a number of accelerated medical degrees. These are usually offered to graduates with a first degree in a science subject. A list of these four year graduate entry programmes can be found in the BMA online guide Becoming a doctor.

Access courses
The main aim of access courses is to prepare adult learners from non-traditional backgrounds and under-represented groups for admission to undergraduate education. In the context of medicine, access courses also allow students with non-science backgrounds the opportunity to study science, which can provide a route into studying medicine. Students c…

Access to medicine courses
Access to medicine` courses should not be confused with ‘access`, ‘foundation` or ‘pre-medical courses`. Access to medicine courses are run by some medical schools to encourage wider access to medicine. This involves encouraging applications from students with non-traditional backgrounds. For example, Guy`s, King`s and St Thomas` medical school run…

Appraisal
The aim of appraisal is to give doctors regular feedback on past performance and continuing progress and to identify education and development needs. More specifically, appraisal: , sets out personal and professional development needs, career paths and goals – national appraisal documentation includes a personal development plan based on the needs …

Assessment
Assessment is, of course, a very broad term. In the context of medicine it is often used professionally to describe the measurement of a student's progress.

Becoming a doctor
Becoming a doctor is an annually-produced BMA information resource designed to help those considering a career in medicine. It includes information on the current entry requirements for medical schools in the UK, funding arrangements and the medical career structure. The guide addresses key issues that potential medical students should consider bef…

BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)
The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is a subject-specific admissions test taken by applicants to certain medicine, veterinary medicine and related courses at a number of institutions in the UK. For more information visit the BMAT website or refer to the BMA guide Becoming a doctor.

BMJ Careers
BMJ Careers is a key source of UK medical job advertisements and careers advice. The site incorporates advertisements on all recruitment and courses. It also includes a full archive of material from the ‘career focus` section. The articles cover a range of topics from communication, medical careers, medical education plus detailed explanations of m…

British Medical Journal (BMJ)
The BMJ is a medical journal published weekly. It aims to publish rigorous, accessible and entertaining material that will help doctors and medical students in their daily practice, lifelong learning and career development. In addition, it seeks to be at the forefront of the international debate on health. The BMJ is available electronically.

Career choice
Following graduation, there are over 50 main specialty areas in which doctors can practice [9]. There are a number of factors that can influence a doctor's career choice, including length of training, desire for variety in work, demand for flexible training and working, and the impact of workforce planning. There is intense competition for some spe…

Clinical governance
The clinical governance programme was implemented in April 1999. It is normally defined as 'a system through which chief executives of NHS organisations are accountable for continually improving the quality of their services and safeguarding high standards of care by creating an environment in which excellence in clinical care will flourish� [10].

Clinical tutors
Clinical tutors are responsible for the organisation of postgraduate medical education within their hospitals and they are also involved with the organisation of continuing medical education (CME) for hospital doctors and general practitioners. There is a clinical tutor in each of the main hospitals in the United Kingdom. The role of the clinical t…

COGPED
The Committee of General Practice Education Directors (COGPED) is a forum that performs a similar role to the Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans COPMeD, but focuses on general practice. Responsibility for postgraduate training for general practice is delegated from postgraduate deans to directors of postgraduate general practice education.

Communication skills
Communication skills are essential for healthcare teams in order to work effectively and provide good patient care [12]. Communication skills for doctors should encompass the ability to communicate with patients from different social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds as well as with those with disabilities or those who cannot speak English. It is im…

Competence
Competence is a collective noun encompassing a range of abilities and skills contained principally in the three domains of skill, knowledge, and attitude [14]. The competency-based approach to medical education is endorsed by the BMA and is now used as part of examining a doctor`s performance by the General Medical Council (GMC). In addition, it un…

Computer assisted learning (CAL)
Computer assisted learning is an alternative teaching model, which has been developed due to the practical difficulties doctors experience in attending traditional external courses. This method aims to provide flexible and time efficient methods of learning and training. It allows doctors to learn or update practical or theoretical skills. This met…

Continuing medical education (CME)
Continuing medical education (CME) is a formal scheme operated by the medical royal colleges in the UK. The purpose is to keep doctors up to date with their medical knowledge, including new diseases and treatment methods. Through CME, doctors are able to attend conferences and courses to update their knowledge and skills throughout all stages of th…

Curriculum
The word curriculum has its roots in the Latin word for track or racecourse. From there it came to mean course of study or syllabus. Today the definition is much wider and includes all the planned learning experiences of a school or educational institution [18]. A curriculum is therefore defined more widely than a syllabus and includes: content; te…

Deans (of UK medical schools)
Deans of UK medical schools are responsible for all matters concerning medical education within their school. Their key aim is to improve and maintain quality in basic medical education and general clinical training. The Council of Heads of Medical Schools (CHMS) acts as the authoritative voice of the deans/heads of university faculties of medicine…

Department of Health (DoH)
The Department of Health`s aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of people in England. For information on the department's work, as well as health and social care guidance, publications and policy please refer to the Department of Health's website.

Disabilities
Many disabled doctors are active, engaged and successful members of the healthcare team. Medical schools welcome diversity among their applicants and are positive about accepting disabled students. There are many demanding aspects of medical work and as such any impairment which may impede clinical capability needs to be considered carefully. Durin…

Enquiry based learning (EBL)
Enquiry-based learning (EBL) refers to forms of learning driven by a process of enquiry: this usually involves a deep engagement with a complex problem. EBL incorporates structures and forms of support to help students carry out enquiries. This approach is similar to problem-based learning where the solution of a problem shapes the learning experie…

Equal opportunities committee
The BMA`s equal opportunities committee (EOC) has a remit to consider all areas of discrimination that can affect doctors in their work place and throughout their careers. The committee periodically monitors and reviews legislation and case law relating to equal opportunities that might have an impact on the medical profession. In 2003 the BMA`s ca…

Experiential learning
Experiential learning is a process whereby knowledge is gained through experience (‘learning by doing`). Parts of the medical school curricula have been designed to provide experiential learning [20]. Experiential learning implies a total learning environment that is neither entirely problem-based, nor didactic, but a combination of the two. Experi…

Feedback
Learners value feedback highly. In many instances, feedback will be linked to some form of assessment. Valid feedback is based on observation of students` behaviours. Feedback should be practical, timely and concrete. The ability to give feedback in a form that is useful to the listener is important. This should include style and the ability to pre…

Formative assessment
Formative assessment is a method used to assess medical students. See the entry on assessment.

Foundation courses
For students with good, non-science grades at A level or equivalent, several universities offer the chance to study a foundation or pre-medical course. The nature of these courses varies from school to school but they sometimes form the first part of a six year medical degree. For a list of medical schools offering foundation or pre-medical courses…

Foundation degrees
Foundation degrees are employment related higher education qualifications, which are designed to give students high-level practical skills they will be able to apply directly to the workplace. Foundation degrees are a strong feature of the government`s proposals for the future of higher education in England. A key feature of foundation degrees is t…

Foundation programme
In 2003 the four UK Health Departments published a policy statement on Modernising Medical Careers (MMC), setting out a major reform of postgraduate medical education and training. One of the fundamental changes to postgraduate medical training is the introduction of foundation programmes.

Funding
Current information on funding for medical students can be found in the BMA online guide Becoming a doctor. This guide also provides contact details of possible organisations that may be able to provide grants or loans to students studying medicine.

General Medical Council (GMC)
The General Medical Council (GMC) has strong legal powers, granted by the Medical Act (1984) and designed to maintain the standards the public have a right to expect of doctors. All doctors must be registered with the GMC to practise medicine in the UK. To register they must have a recognised medical qualification. Where any doctor fails to meet pr…

General professional training
General professional training must be completed before doctors in training can begin their specialist training. At present, all doctors are normally required to complete a minimum period of two years` general professional training in approved senior house officer (SHO) posts [26]. This period of training is designed to equip doctors with the knowle…

Good Medical Practice
The General Medical Council (GMC) published its update to Good Medical Practice in 2006. This document describes the principles of good medical practice: , good clinical care , maintaining good medical practice , teaching and training , relationships with patients , dealing with problems in professional practice , working with colleagues , probity …

GP principal
After successfully completing a period of training as a GP registrar, doctors can become GP principals. A GP principal is defined as a registered, vocationally-trained medical practitioner, who is contracted by the local health authority or health board to take unsupervised responsibility for patients [27]. For more information, see the BMA publica…

GP registrars
Doctors training to be GPs within a general practice setting are called GP registrars. GP registrars treat patients in the context of their training under the supervision of a trainer. Once the GP registrar has successfully completed this period of training they are awarded the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) by the Postgraduate Medical…

GP tutors
GP tutors are appointed by the directors of postgraduate general practice education. They are responsible for coordinating local postgraduate education allowance (PGEA) activity. They accredit educational activity for the PGEA as well as coordinate and provide it at local postgraduate centres. For more information, see the BMA publication Medical s…

Graduate entry programmes
Graduate entry programmes to medicine are courses available only to those who have already completed a first degree. These courses are available at a number of UK universities but the length and structure of the course depends on the individual university. Graduate entry programmes are shorter than standard undergraduate medical degrees and are nor…

Higher Education Academy (HEA)
The Higher Education Academy's (HEA) mission is to help institutions, discipline groups and all staff to provide the best possible learning experience for their students. The HEA`s strategic plan for 2005-2010 can be found here.

Integrated courses
There are two types of integrated medical courses. Vertical integration refers primarily to the interweaving of clinical skills and knowledge into the basic science years. It also involves reinforcing and continuing to teach basic science concepts as they apply during the clinical years. This is an alternative to the traditional structure of medica…

Interprofessional learning
A variety of terms are used to describe the arrangements made for people from different disciplines and/or professions to learn with each other. The GMC publication Tomorrow's Doctors is an important driver for interprofessional education. It states that “medical schools should explore and, where appropriate, provide opportunities for students to w…

JASME
The Junior Association for the Study of Medical Education (JASME) grew out of, and is a sub-group of ASME. It is run by medical students and doctors in training grades. Its key aims are: , to encourage and promote good practice by medical educators , to create a forum for medical students, junior doctors and other healthcare trainees so they can ex…

Licence to practise
By law, from January 2005, any doctor who wishes to continue to practice will need to have a licence to practice. In getting and retaining the licence to practise, doctors will be agreeing to follow the principles set out in the General Medical Council (GMC)`s Good Medical Practice (2006) and to take part in periodic revalidation. The GMC has publi…

Lifelong learning
Lifelong learning aims to ensure that staff are equipped with the skills and knowledge to work flexibly in support of patients and that they are supported to grow, develop and realise their potential. It is a concept that has been embraced by doctors, and implemented through continuing professional development (CPD). The government also endorses li…

Maintenance grants
The introduction of maintenance grants featured in the government`s proposals in The Future of Higher Education. Students who come from a household whose income is less than £17,500 or less are eligible to receive a grant of up to £2,700 a year in England and Wales, or £3,200 in Northern Ireland. Partial Grants are available to students whose famil…

Mature students
‘Mature student` is a term traditionally used to describe older students who are entering university for the first time. However, this definition has recently broadened to include graduate entrants to medicine who have already completed a first degree. Mature students follow the same course as traditional undergraduate medical students, unless they…

Medical indemnity
Medical indemnity is a type of insurance which provides cover to healthcare professionals, such as doctors, to protect them against claims of malpractice or negligence. It is not a contractual requirement of employment in the NHS and since 1990, the NHS has had financial responsibility for negligence attributable to medical staff of the hospital an…

Medical royal colleges
The medical royal colleges and specialist faculties play a role in determining the content of postgraduate medical education and training in the various medical specialties, and in tracking a doctors` training career towards completion and award of the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT). Examinations for the membership or fellowship of a r…

Medical schools
There are 30 medical schools in the UK. Medical schools are responsible for awarding primary medical qualifications to students. The names of the degrees awarded to medical graduates vary slightly (for example MBBS and MBChB) but all are equivalent. In awarding degrees to medical students, medical schools have a responsibility to the public, employ…

Medical students committee (MSC)
The BMA`s medical students committee (MSC) represents more than 12,000 medical students from medical schools across the UK. The MSC campaigns on a range of issues of national importance including education, finance and welfare. In addition, intra-school committees are being established in each school to deal with local issues that affect medical st…

Medical Women`s Federation
The Medical Women`s Federation exists to promote the education of women in medicine, the study and practice of medicine amongst women doctors, to advance medical research and represent women doctors.

Mentoring
The term ‘mentoring` features widely in literature associated with medical education. Most medical schools, Postgraduate Deaneries, Royal Colleges and NHS trusts mention mentoring within some context.

Modernising Medical Careers
Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) is a Department of Health and NHS initiative to reform postgraduate medical education and improve patient care. It aims to do this by delivering a modernised and focused career structure to develop demonstrably competent doctors who are skilled at communicating and working as effective members of a team.

MPET
MPET stands for Multi Professional Education and Training levy (MPET). It is a funding stream from the Department of Health that funds the additional costs to the NHS of supporting the practice experience of medical and dental students. The single funding stream comprises the following levies NMET (Non Medical Education and Training), MADEL (Medica…

Multi-professional education
Multi-professional education is a term used to describe a learning process in which people from different professional backgrounds learn together. This can be workplace based or at undergraduate level. Whilst there is strong evidence that effective teamwork improves patient care [40], more research is needed to evaluate the impact of multi-professi…

NACPME
The National Advice Centre for Postgraduate Medical Education (NACPME) is an information service for doctors who qualified overseas and would like to continue their training in the United Kingdom. It is run by the British Council on behalf of the Department of Health (DoH). Its aim is to provide doctors with as much information as they need before …

National Assembly of Wales
The National Assembly of Wales was established in 1998 to reflect the needs of the people of Wales. The Welsh Assembly has considerable power to develop and implement a range of policies, including those involving health and health services.

National Union of Students (NUS)
The National Union of Students (NUS) is a voluntary membership organisation which represents the interests of around five million students in further and higher education throughout the UK. The NUS provides research, representation, training and expert advice for individual students and students` unions. The BMA`s Medical Students Committee (MSC) h…

New doctor
The New doctor (1997) is a GMC publication that makes detailed recommendations about the clinical, educational and personal needs of doctors in their first year post-qualification.

NHS
The National Health Service (NHS) was set up over 50 years ago and is now the largest organisation in Europe. The Department of Health has overall responsibility for regulation and inspection of the NHS. Increasingly however this is done at arms-length through other organisations. Strategic health authorities are responsible for developing strategi…

NHS Plan
The NHS Plan (2001) made far-reaching changes across the NHS. This included increased numbers in staff, including consultants, general practitioners, doctors in training and to achieve this there was also an increased number of medical school places. The plan included proposals to reform the senior house officer (SHO) grade, and introduce a Postgra…

Office for Fair Access (OFFA)
The government`s paper on Widening participation in higher education put forward proposals for the creation and remit of the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). OFFA will be an independent body, which is supported by the Higher Education Funding Council. Providing legislation is agreed, its role will be to: , consider and approve universities` access ag…

Overseas doctors
An overseas doctor is defined as a doctor who has qualified outside of the EU or who is not an EU citizen. Information for overseas doctors wanting to work in the UK is available from the BMA international department. The department has a list of frequently-asked questions available on its website which provides useful information on working and tr…

Personal development plans (PDPs)
A personal development plan (PDP) is a tool that can identify areas for further development and encourage lifelong learning. A PDP can identify goals for the forthcoming year and methods for achieving these goals. PDPs have been advocated by the medical royal colleges as a basis for continuing professional development [41]. For further information,…

PhD
Medical students can sometimes study for a PhD, if they have a particular research interest. This will usually follow on from the intercalated year and will involve a further three years of research leading to a PhD. In some cases it may be possible to integrate a PhD into a medical degree. This allows students to gain both a PhD and a basic medica…

PMETB
The Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB) was introduced to replace the Specialist Training Authority of the Medical Royal Colleges (STA) and the Joint Committee on Postgraduate Training for General Practice (JCPTGP) with the intention to create a single, independent body to bring together responsibility for all postgraduate med…

Postgraduate deans
Postgraduate Deans work in close association with College Regional Specialty Advisers. Deaneries contract with Trusts and others and ensure that Trusts, GP Training Practices and Health Authorities provide a suitable learning environment to meet the expectations of Specialist and Generalist Medical and Dental training, as defined by the requirement…

Postgraduate training
Postgraduate training follows on from graduation at medical school and continues up to the point at which a career grade post is reached, for example, consultant, GP principal, staff and associate specialist etc. Postgraduate education encompasses general professional training and specialist training or vocational training for those training to bec…

Pre-clinical courses
Some pre-clinical courses still exist in medical schools. Under this traditional model, students begin their training with two years of 'pre-clinical' work, studying the basic medical sciences. This is followed by a 'clinical' course of approximately three years, during which they work in hospital wards under the supervision of consultants. Through…

Problem based learning (PBL)
In problem based learning (PBL) students use the presentation of clinical material as a stimulus for defining their own learning objectives. Subsequently they do independent, self-directed study before returning to the group to discuss and refine their acquired knowledge and understanding. PBL may be used either as the mainstay of an entire curricu…

Professionalism
Professionalism has been called the basis of medicine`s contract with society [46]. The principles of professional practice are set out in the General Medical Council (GMC) guidance Good medical practice. The GMC recommends that these principles form the basis of medical education. The key headings which form these principles are good clinical care…

Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is an independent body, which provides an integrated quality assurance service for UK higher education. The role of the QAA is “to safeguard the public interest in sound standards of higher education qualifications, and to encourage continuous improvement in the management of the quality of hi…

Reflective Practice
Many people would argue that all medical practice should be reflective. At medical schools, a reflective attitude to medical practice may be encouraged through student selected components/special study modules in other subjects such as humanities. Used more formally, the term reflective practice is also an aspect of experiential learning and involv…

Regional advisers
Royal colleges use regional specialty advisers to help coordinate post graduate medical education in their specialty. It is expected that regional specialty advisers will elect a chairman from amongst them who will act as a regional adviser. The role of the regional advisor is to provide a link between the royal college, the university or universit…

Research assessment exercise (RAE)
Universities` research funding is determined by the research assessment exercise (RAE) which rates the research quality of universities` departments. April 2003 saw the completion of a review of the research assessment process. The white paper The future of higher education called on the UK Higher Education Funding Bodies to identify the best resea…

Revalidation
Revalidation is a process that has been long discussed but not yet introduced. The General Medical Council (GMC) has been awaiting the outcomes of the Chief Medical Officer`s report into regulation: Good doctors, safer patients.

Royal Society of Medicine
The Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) is an independent society founded in the 18th century. It aims to: , provide a broad range of educational activities and opportunities for doctors, dentists, and veterinary surgeons, including students of these disciplines; and allied health-care professionals , promote an exchange of information and ideas on the…

Self-directed learning
Self-directed learning is a process in which students are responsible for organising and managing their own learning activities and needs. It is a method which encourages individuals to accept personal responsibility for their own learning [48]. The intention is that learners will identify their own knowledge gaps and critically appraise new inform…

Senior house officers (SHOs)
Once doctors become senior house officers (SHOs) they begin their general professional training [49] which is the first stage of education to becoming a consultant specialist or GP. SHOs form a large group of hospital doctors and provide front line patient care. This period of training usually lasts two to three years and is designed to equip train…

Special study modules (SSMs)
See Student Selected Components (SSCs)

Specialist adviser
The specialty adviser is a practising consultant appointed by each royal college in consultation with regional deaneries, colleagues, and the relevant specialist advisory committee. The main role of regional specialty advisers is to coordinate post graduate training in their specialty. They are responsible for approving consultant and associate spe…

Specialist Advisory Committees
Specialist Advisory Committees are attached to the royal colleges and are responsible for determining the required content and standards for specialist registrar (SpR) training against standards set by the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB). They also recommend trainees to the PMETB for award of the Certificate of Completion …

Specialist medical training
Currently, to enter specialist medical training, and become a specialist registrar (SpR), doctors must have normally completed a minimum of two years` general professional training as an SHO and have passed the appropriate royal college examinations. On completion of the period of specialist training, which usually lasts four to six years, doctors …

Specialist registrar (SpR)
The specialist registrar (SpR) grade represents the period of specialist medical education. Doctors are usually specialist registrars for four to six years, after which they gain the certificate of completion of training (CCT), are entered on to the Specialist Register and are eligible to apply for consultant posts. Each doctor who enters a special…

Specialty registrar (StR)
Specialty registrar (StR) will be the new name for combined senior house officer (SHO) and specialist registrar (SpR) training grade from August 2007. StRs will undertake run-through training programmes.

The future of higher education
This is the name of a white paper on higher education launched by the Department for Education and Skills in January 2003. This made a number of key recommendations for the future arrangements of higher education in England. These recommendations included: , the abolition of up-front tuition fees and their replacement by fees paid back through the …

The Scottish doctor
The Scottish doctor produced by the Scottish Deans Medical Curriculum Group, is an agreed set of learning outcomes which clearly define the qualities and abilities of medical graduates from any of the Scottish medical schools. Publication of The Scottish doctor in 2000 followed almost a year of consultation with staff and students from all five med…

Tomorrow`s doctors
The General Medical Council`s publication Tomorrow`s doctors, first published in 1993, makes recommendations on the undergraduate curriculum. The publication of Tomorrow`s Doctors signalled a significant change in GMC guidance. The emphasis of undergraduate education moved from gaining knowledge to a learning process that includes communication ski…

Tuition fees
Tuition fees were introduced by the government in 1998, for students entering higher education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For the academic year 2007, most students are required to pay contributions of up to £3,000 per year, depending on parental or spousal income. Students resident in Scotland do not have to pay tuition fees but are ex…

Undergraduate education
Undergraduate education in medicine is the time from beginning a medical degree through to graduation and provisional registration with the General Medical Council (GMC). This normally lasts five or six years depending on whether or not the degree is intercalated. This is the first stage of medical education undertaken by medical students and will …

Universities
There are many universities in the UK. Around 30 UK universities run medical degree programmes. Universities in the UK receive funding from a variety of sources including public funding for teaching and research through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). For further information on universities offering medical courses, please…

Vocational training
Vocational training must be undertaken by doctors who wish to work in general practice, and lasts for three years. Doctors can either choose to undertake a specific three-year course arranged in advance by a UK university under the guidance of the director of postgraduate general practice education (DPGPE). Alternatively, it is possible for doctors…

White papers on higher education
A White Paper is a document issued by a government department which contains detailed proposals for legislation. It is the final stage before the government introduces its proposals to Parliament in the form of a Bill [52].

Widening access
Widening access is a central part of the Government`s agenda for higher education. Widening access to higher education means increasing the diversity of university students to include those from backgrounds that do not traditionally attend university. The government`s plans for achieving widened access are outlined in its publication Widening parti…