Medical students could have gaps in knowledge

A rise in the number of patients refusing to take part in medical education could mean that medical students have gaps in their knowledge, experts at Birmingham University Medical School have warned.

The team of experts say medical students will miss out on important opportunities to conduct patient consultations unless more patients are willing to help with training.

Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics (Vol 34, Issue 2)  the team from the university’s department of Primary Care and General Practice argue that students may be qualifying with gaps in their practical experience.

This has potentially damaging implications for the quality of newly-qualified doctors in the UK.

Currently, patients need to give explicit permission before medical students are allowed to become involved in their treatment or care.

The authors believe that this should be replaced by a system that starts with the idea that there is no reason why students who are competent to do so should not be helping to treat patients.

Associate Professor Nick Ross from the Birmingham team said: “Whilst the personal choice of each patient is of paramount importance, it is not in patients’ interests to see doctors who are not fully competent in a clinical environment.

“We believe that the current system does very little to encourage patients to take part in medical education or to explain the benefits of having a student present during a procedure.”

For more see the University of Birmingham

Female hospital consultants ‘less productive’ than male colleagues

Female hospital consultants working in the NHS are 20% less productive than their male counterparts, research has shown.

Researchers from the Universities of York and Birmingham highlighted a 20% difference in the number of episodes conducted between male and female consultants.

On average, male consultants completed 160 more episodes of care each year than their female colleagues.

Professor Nick Freemantle from the University of Birmingham’s Department of Primary Care said: “Studies in the US and Canada have shown similar results, but in those systems doctors are paid by fees-for-service, so lower activity rates may represent a personal choice.

“It’s harder to know why this difference should exist in the NHS, but it’s a substantial and statistically significant difference across a wide range of medical areas.”

The research was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.  

Journal editor Dr Kamran Abbasi said: “These data do not show that men are better doctors than women. They do, however, highlight potential differences in the way medical careers develop for men and women in our health service.

“It will be fascinating to explore the underlying reasons for this difference in productivity. Does it mean less is more?”

For more see the University of Birmingham