Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Effect of Feminisation of Medical Training

As honorary senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield,  I am often involved in the assessment and examination of medical students.
I was recently attending a refresher course on OSCE (Observed Structured Clinical Examination) assessment of medical undergraduates.  This formal instruction for examiners is, we were told, now mandated by the General Medical Council .
The talk together with demonstration videos of how to and how not to carry out a proper valid OSCE assessment was very helpful and informative.
The speaker was a medical education specialist from the medical school. Many of her senior colleagues are also women. It struck me as I listened to her presentation that, in addition to a steep increase in the number of female medical graduates, there has been a gradual feminisation of medical training in the UK. I suppose that this should hold no surprise to anyone as the number of academic medical women involved in designing curricula and assessments has inevitably increased. This, I hasten to add,  is no bad thing. On the contrary, it is to be welcomed. Feminisation of undergraduate medical training has led to an increase in patient centredness of what is expected from modern doctors  (what old timers used to call the touchy feely bits!) - a quality hitherto lacking in medical training.
Whether this approach to medical training occurs in all of the countries of origin of the large numbers of foreign graduates who work in the NHS is debatable. This should be a matter of some concern if the predominance of foreign born doctors who fall foul of the General Medical Council is to be reversed. There is no doubt that this new approach to undergraduate training is extended into postgraduate training and foreign graduates who come to the UK for their postgraduate training learn fast. The doctors who are at risk are those who do all their training elsewhere and come to the UK for their tenured job. It is this group who require an intensive and prolonged induction prior to entering medical life in the UK with all that British society expects from its doctors.