22 Jun Advocacy Half-Year Report
The Advocacy Portfolio has had a very busy first half of the year working with the School on a number of issues. The AMC Report was submitted early 2016, and the executive have been able to discuss some of the key issues with the School as well as make some good progress. A particular area of focus has been strengthening the training that students receive in patient advocacy, graded assertiveness and responding to bullying and harassment. The first new step has been further developing a graded assertiveness simulated communication session for first year students. This was very well received and is planned to continue in the future, along with other changes planned to come later in 2016. The first ever Patient Safety Symposium will be running later this year which is also planned to include a practical session on personal safety and responding to harassment.
There is also continuing discussion on access to assessment feedback, and attendance policy which has been an ongoing issue. Last year, GUMS was able to successfully campaign for conference leave for students which is has been a great success so far with many students utilising this. GUMS has been discussing the potential for bereavement leave for students. Unfortunately, the School’s position is that leave for funerals should be taken as one of the four absences allowed without penalty. Students are still permitted under the GEMP Guidelines to request special consideration leave from the academic manager if they need leave for more than a few days- this includes for bereavement, significant illness or personal issues. In December this year, there will be a full review of the GEMP Guidelines, which GUMS will continue to push for the best outcomes for students.
Year 1 and 2 students have been actively providing feedback throughout the year. There has been some tension at times between the students and the school over assessment and curriculum changes. Exceptional feedback obtained from second year students has driven a full review of HBCT to find ways to improve its quality and sustainability as cohort numbers continue to rise. A full survey of all students will be distributed in the coming weeks to kick of some in depth discussions with all stakeholders. The primary issues identified so far has been the lack of consistency in quality of teaching, repeated short-notice cancellations and group sizes. This said, there has been some very positive feedback particularly about certain doctors and clinical sites. In response to this, the School is looking at welcoming these highly regarded practitioners on as academic titleholders.
Feedback has also resulted in a review of the Doctor and Patient theme which underwent several changes in 2016. There has been some concern about changes to policy meaning students are no longer about to swap clinical session times with other students. This initially created issues for year 2 students who were expecting to be able to use these to help with child-care arrangements and for those with HBCT at distant hospitals. While the School made timetables available for these students for the whole to make planning easier (in response to persistent requests by GUMS), we were unable to secure change to this policy as it was confirmed and introduced in late 2016. Now as we approach half way through the year, most students have adjusted to this but it will be raised again at the review meetings later in the year. There will also be a review of the anatomy curriculum, where GUMS will have student representatives presenting our point of view.
Year 3 and 4 students have been diligently working all year. Executive have been working on a review of the in-workplace assessments to improve their quality and their adequacy to represent student’s skills and achievements. While this is ultimately expected to only create change in 2017, there have been immediate changes to the way OSCARs are assessed to make these a more useful learning tool. The number of OSCARs required has been reduced and rationale for investigation and treatment has been introduced- the hope is that this will allow students to complete the OSCARs more thoroughly, but also increase the chance of clinicians to provide useful feedback. There is also discussion about potentially introducing a short-case type assessment in place of an OSCAR, however there is no conclusive decision on this despite strong student support. In 2017, it is also planned that students will receive improved orientation materials to ease the transition into third and fourth year. This will include a handbook which clarifies expectations, lists key contact persons, explains assessments more clearly and outline how to respond to and report bullying and harassment. The attendance policy for clinical year students continues to be discussed as an ongoing point of contention. Some clinical leads report that student engagement is inadequate, with students leaving early in the day and taking unnecessary absences. GUMS representatives continue to be involved with the School to provide a student perspective on this issues.
GUMS Help kicked off for 2016, providing students with an easy and confidential way to seek help for any concerns regarding wellbeing and advocacy. This has been great so far; please keep using this to get in touch. We are also introducing a regarding update feed to keep students aware of what is being said in School committees. This is part of GUMS commitment to improving transparency and communication.
Please continue to let your representatives know how we can be helping you as a GUMS team. Nathan, Dan, Paddy and I have been working hard but we can only work on your behalf if we know what issues are most important to you.
Kirsty Whitmore – Advocacy Officer