Everyone in health and care has a role as an educator

In our latest podcast episode ‘Embedding Personalised Care in Undergraduate and Postgraduate Training’, Anya De Longh, a trainee Occupational Therapist, and Dr Aimee Dowek, a Junior Doctor, discuss the common barriers faced by health and care professionals when it comes to delivering personalised care under pressure. They share their thoughts on the need for person-centred behaviours in education, training and assessment to embed good habits early on. The insightful podcast episode highlights their experiences and offers practical tips for maintaining a person-centred approach. 

Here, Dr Aimee Dowek further outlines her thoughts on the importance of personalised care training being implemented at the earliest opportunity possible. 

Medical education is rapidly evolving to keep up with the advances in modern day medicine, which, in turn, delivers a plethora of benefits for health and care practitioners and patients. However, I worry that personalised care is still underemphasized in curriculums and assessments in undergraduate education and training and I would really like to see this addressed. 

The General Medical Councils’ (GMCs) ‘Outcomes for Graduates’ highlights the importance of social science, communication skills and healthcare promotion. However, it is critical all medical schools also teach the next generation of doctors about personalised care, to ensure they enter the workplace with a holistic, personalised approach which improves outcomes for their patients.. 

Like the majority of my colleagues, I went to medical school because I wanted to help people. So, it’s fair to say that I felt somewhat demoralised to learn in my clinical years that health outcomes are mainly influenced by social determinants such as income, employment, housing and community rather than healthcare. Personalised care is a way of tapping into the other social determinates health through finding out what really matters to people and using innovative solutions like social prescribing. Simultaneously, empowering healthcare practitioners to make greater progress in tackling growing health inequalities. . 

Placing personalised care training front and centre of education, at the earliest opportunity – would go a long way to building a solid foundation of knowledge from the outset. It would enable us as professionals to thoroughly understand the positive difference that the delivery of personalised care can make, especially when we’re under pressure in our daily roles after graduation. What better way would there be to start a career in our respective disciplines? Embedding this learning much earlier would also result in a deeper understanding of the benefits of personalised care such as enhanced patient adherence, better recovery times and better clinical satisfaction.  

Reflecting on my own learning, I have completed the PCI’s modules and, having started them with little experience of how to actually apply personalised care, I found that they contained great practical advice and gave me a good overall understanding so that I could begin integrating personalised care into my practice. However, in my junior role in secondary care I do find the workforce pressures a barrier to this. In order for care to be more effective and less paternalistic, healthcare professionals need to have more protected time with the patient. This will help eliminate the pressure currently felt by doctors as they may feel overwhelmed by the complexities of the problems patients divulge, whereas more time allows the health professional time to work with the patient to look beyond their initial presenting complaint and seek a more rounded, holistic and realistic solution together. Although I agree that personalized care will save time in the long-term, it can be hard to make that initial time investment in a pressured environment. 

The PCI is implementing essential learning for multidisciplinary career development as we all strive to provide the very best health and care support, whatever our roles. As like all biomedical topics in medicine, personalised care too will need to be included in professionals continuing development (CPD) as these principles evolve.  One way this CPD can be achieved is via the aforementioned PCI modules. However, these should build on a solid practical foundation, set down early in medical school and fortified throughout training.

Everyone in health and care sector has a role as an educator. I hope those listening to the latest Personalised Care Podcast episode will learn the importance of the topic and try to incorporate some of the principles of personalised care into their next teaching session. There is also a gap in the evidence base around teaching these subjects, so perhaps some will be inspired to start to fill that gap too! In the meantime, the PCIs free quality-assured eLearning modules are a great place to start.

You can listen to the latest episode on the PCI’s podcast channel and find out more about PCI e-learning courses here.

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