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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Patient educator group

BSMS > About BSMS > Working here > Patient educator group

Patient educator group

BSMS patient educators are patients and carers who are involved in a range of activities at BSMS. The majority of these activities include involvement with teaching sessions to help our students start to understand the impact of living with different health conditions from the patient and carers’ perspective. This is important to help them to develop their communication, professional, clinical reasoning and consultation skills for their future role.

The aims of the patient educator programme are to:

  • Provide high quality learning experiences for medical students by enabling them to hear the patient’s or carers personal experience of managing their condition on a day to day basis. 
  • Ensure that students have a broad understanding of the experiences of service users and the implications of a range of health conditions and disabilities.
  • Provide a unique patient-centred focus to the students clinical training to help them apply their knowledge to real patients.
  • Involve patients/carers to help guide our work and future developments at BSMS. 
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What do patient educators say about the programme?

Current patient educators in our programme enjoy their role and make an important contribution to the education of the next generation of young doctors:

"It felt good to see that the students were beginning to understand the impact of managing type 1 diabetes.” Hazel, patient educator.

“Sharing my past experiences, both good and bad, helps ‘Tomorrow’s Doctors’ have a better understanding of the skills they need to provide the communication and care the patient needs.” Mike, patient educator.

"These sessions with real patients help hone student communication skills and give them an invaluable insight into the issues that people with a chronic condition face." David, patient educator.

What do medical students say about patient educators?

Interactions with real patients and carers are highly valued and evaluated by the students. They often comment that they feel more confident and competent following patient educator sessions. 

“The patient educator programme is a great asset - we get feedback on our skills, such as communication, from the point of view of those it will affect the most. It helps to sculpt the doctors of tomorrow in a patient focused manner.” Tom, Year 4 medical student, BSMS.

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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.  

Feedback

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. 

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When and where do the teaching sessions take place?

Teaching sessions take place Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm and volunteers can commit to as many or as few sessions as they would like. Sessions can take as little as 30 minutes or up to a full day. 

All sessions are held at one of the BSMS teaching buildings at either the University of Brighton or the University of Sussex in Falmer, the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton or Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

Travel and refreshments

We will provide you with refreshments and travel expenses will be fully reimbursed using an expenses claim form, so please keep parking receipts or tickets and make a note of your mileage. If it is easier to arrive by taxi we can arrange this for you. 

Unfortunately, we cannot pay patient educators, but we hope that you find contributing to the training our future doctors is both rewarding and satisfying. BSMS values all the activities of Patient Educators and would like to continue to actively involve patients and carers in the future.

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How can I get involved?

If you would like to join our patient educator group please download the application form and return to Patient Educator Group: Dean’s Office, Room 3.11, Brighton and Sussex Medical School Teaching Building, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9PX.

Download application form >

If you have any questions or would like to find out more please email PEG@bsms.ac.uk or call 01273 877857 (please note this is a voicemail facility, so please leave your name and contact number).

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