17 May Advocacy Report
The Advocacy Team within GUMS endeavours to support students during their medical studies by acting as a voice for them, by streamlining their concerns to staff and hospital representatives. In this way, we hope to address student concerns, ranging from learning and assessment to making sure everyone has the support they need if the going gets tough.
It’s been a busy past couple of months for the GUMS Advocacy Team as we have been working and meeting with the school to discuss a number of issues. We would like to warmly welcome two invaluable additions to our medical school, Associate Professor James Fraser and Associate Professor Margo Lane, who are the theme leads for DKHI and D&P, respectively. The GUMS executive have had a number of meetings with both A/Professors Fraser and Lane, to discuss issues pertinent in both themes, in order to improve the experience for us students. Both James and Margo are very keen to support the students in any way they can and are happy to discuss student concerns on an individual level as well.
Earlier on in the year the Advocacy team had the opportunity to send a student submission to the AMC commenting on ongoing issues throughout the medical program. It was a collaborative effort with the whole advocacy team involved along with representatives from AMSA and the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA). A particular issue that we have flagged to the AMC is our concern regarding growing student numbers. Numbers of students are increasing as a result of increased medical science student intake along with a further planned increase in the international student intake, our concern arises due to the lack of additional facilities to accommodate larger numbers of students thus causing a reduction in the quality of medical teaching at Griffith University.
In regards to first year issues, these have mainly stemmed from the increasing cohort size. Past issues about access to tutors and specimens in the lab have remained a problem and the increase in cohort size throughout the years has compounded the issue. Current first year students are finding it difficult to get enough time to speak with tutors, and to be able to properly look at all the specimens/models in the labs. Therefore, more tutors will be employed and ten more tables in the labs will be opened up to ensure these concerns are addressed. As the cohort size will continue to increase over the next few years, other options for improving how the anatomy labs run are being looked at, to ensure that all cohorts have an enjoyable learning experience in anatomy, regardless of cohort size.
This year, there have been changes made to the Bedside Teaching program which include fewer sessions and smaller group sizes with the aim of improving the overall student experience. GUMS has campaigned in the past for the number of sessions not to be reduced. In response to student feedback we ran a survey on current 2nd year students to gauge the effectiveness of these changes. The feedback was generally positive but concerns still remain about the quantity and quality of the clinical teaching. We sincerely thank all the 2nd year students for their responsiveness – this feedback is imperative to ensuring that improvements are made. In response to this the advocacy team met with A/Prof Margo Lane and Prof Jeffrey Schwartz. This was a productive interaction where the survey was evaluated and many great ideas were shared. Coming of the back of this, we look forward to what the future will bring in terms of Bedside Teaching.
In collaboration with the Head of School, Prof. Simon Broadley, the Advocacy portfolio have been working on creating a document with a list of 10 strategic priorities that are important issues to the student body. These priorities are not restricted to curriculum based issues but also encompass university and other external matters that are important us as a collective. We are in the final drafting stages of this document and plan on holding a think tank event, so please be on the look out for that if you are interested as it will be a great opportunity to become involved in something that can really bring about change at a wider school level.
The pastoral care survey was recently conducted, to see what help students would seek in response when the going gets tough. It was found that most students would talk to staff members, GUMS representatives and family and friends, with barriers to accessing support being lack of time, self-reliance (as opposed to seeking external help) and not being aware of the support networks offered within the medical school and the wider university community. We would like to again thank students for responding to this survey. There is increasing awareness surrounding the stresses that medical students go through during their studies and beyond – wanting to fit in, the pressure of the intense workload, being away from home (for students who moved for their studies), family and friend related issues – and the list goes on. Students are often overwhelmed, especially when many of these factors come into play at one point on their life. This can amount in real mental burdens for the students. As a medical family, we aim to ensure that no one gets left behind and that we can do whatever possible to back each other along the way. Therefore, we are currently looking at improvements to pastoral care within the medical school.
For the clinical year students some important developments to be aware of include the following:
- The introduction of the clinical attendance standards to all clinic sites will hopefully bring about an equitable experience at all hospitals. If you are experiencing a clinical environment that is expecting you to stay beyond the 36 hours/week and this is becoming detrimental to your study please let your hospital rep know.
- The year ¾ academic team this year are undertaking a review of the Paediatrics curriculum by comparing responses from the paper end of block feedback forms. The purpose is to ensure that the 7 week placemnets are covering an appropriate range of the learning objectives, that there is enough clinic opportunity presented to students and ensuring that the teaching and experience is of a high quality at all sites. Therefore it is absolutely imperitive that we as students take the initiatve to fill out these feedback forms in order to institute change.
- There have been 2 Curriculum Hours held this year so far which have been a great success and something that was developed between the Advocacy team and the year ¾ academic team last year. These sessions provide the perfect opportunity for getting direct access to staff and having your questions answered. Please make sure when we do the call out for questions you email your year rep. Topics such as assessment and dates are ideal to raise via this forum.
- Nathan Hui (Advocacy Officer)
- Wadie Rassam (Year 1 representative)
- Maddi Taylor (Year 4 representative and immediate past president)