What do patient educators do?
There is no better teacher than the patient or those caring for them as they have a unique story to share and are the real experts.
The programme has different strands and patient educators choose the option/s that they think will suit them. The amount of time individuals decide to be involved varies and this is entirely the decision of the patient educator. We recognise that this may change over time and this is not a problem. Patient educators will be fully prepared before the sessions so they know what to expect and will be supported during and after a teaching session.
Different activities patient educators may wish to be involved with include:
1. History taking/patient interactions
This involves students taking a medical history and/or exploring the impact a condition has on the individual and the family in a small group setting.
The students usually work through a series of questions that help them to formulate an opinion or diagnosis and/or they may ask questions about how a condition affects the individual. Students might ask about:
- Presenting complaint – what you noticed when you first became ill or what the current problem is.
- History of presenting complaint – the story of your illness over time and any changes that have occurred.
- Past medical history – any long standing conditions, previous illness or operations that you have had and the outcome.
- Family history – if anyone in your family has had anything similar. Students will also ask about the health of your parents, brothers and sisters and children.
- Social history – questions about smoking, drinking alcohol, where and with whom you live and your occupation may give clues to some illnesses.
- Drug history and allergies – whether you are taking any medicines prescribed by a doctor and whether you use any medicines from a chemist, herbalist or another source.
2. Basic physical examination
Basic physical examination forms a part of most interactions between a doctor and patient and teaching at this level gives students the opportunity to practice the procedures involved. It will be a simple physical examination based on your condition, for example taking your blood pressure or checking your abdomen and will be under the supervision of a clinical tutor.
3. Committee work
We are keen for patients and carers to get involved to help BSMS develop all aspects of medical curriculum delivery including planning teaching and assessment. We aim that our medical school curricula is informed by medical students, educators, employers, and patients, families and carers. We have small friendly committees that meet to discuss the direction of future activities and we plan to develop this work further. The various committees meet a few times a year, but we do ask if you are interested in this activity that you commit to a full year.
4. Admissions interviewing
We are in the process of setting up a new way to interview prospective students who would like to study medicine at BSMS. This system is called multiple mini interviews (MMIs) during which applicants will participate in a number of brief discussions with assessors. We hope to involve patient educators as assessors in the interviews in 2018.
5. Assessing students
This involves assisting in the assessing of students in summative assessments under exam conditions, which may be a mixture of the students taking a history taking and or undertaking physical examination. Full instruction and training will be provided for any patient educator involved in this activity.
All patient educator sessions focus on listening and communication as these skills are an essential part of the doctor/patient consultation. Therefore, it is important that you feel listened to and understood.
Feedback is an essential part of the teaching and learning process and is designed to provide the student with information that will enable them to develop their skills and reinforce good practice. We often ask patient educators/ carers to provide feedback to the students and this is highly valued by them so you may be asked to contribute to this following your teaching session.