Care in Medicine Seminars
In 2012, Professor Brendan Drumm (UCD Professor of Paediatrics) and Dr Suzanne Donnelly (Director of Clinical Education) hosted the first in a series of seminars on the philosophy and practice of caring and empathy.
These seminars are offered to final year students in the Professional Completion Module. During this module, students integrate material from across the curriculum as they prepare for their imminent practice as medical interns.
Opening the seminar, Professor Drumm said:
"Today is about understanding the privilege of qualifying as young doctors. You are entering a career that places you in a remarkable position of privilege, in terms of the intimate interactions that you have with people all around you, in your communities and elsewhere.
It’s hugely important that you don’t let that be taken from you and that you live up to the responsibilities that come with that privilege. There is unfortunately a tendency, as we go through life, to become more sceptical and cynical, but what we hope you will take from today is quite the opposite; that you will grasp the privilege, and based on today’s interactions, that you will even see that privilege more powerfully.”
Following the introduction, Professor Drumm handed the floor over to the participants who spoke honestly, frankly and sometimes emotionally about their experience of being ill and about the care they received as patients. Their accounts of illness from the patient perspective generated many questions and comments from students who also sought advice from the participants on how they could provide better care in their new role as working doctors. There followed a break out session in which small groups discussed their observations on caring in clinical practice based on their experiences as students.
A moderated report-back by these groups to the wider team, including the patient participants resulted in an interactive exchange that was both passionate and thought provoking.
Our students commented on the importance of rethinking the patient perspective at this key moment in their training, as they approach graduation and a working life in medicine.
"It was very useful and informative to take a step back from the constant pressure of academic and clinical medicine and focus for a couple of hours on the bread and butter of medical practice. A lot of us were probably already losing sight of what our initial goals were on starting out in the course…”
"I can genuinely say that many of us were discussing the topics that arose on friday for hours afterwards, in a way that just wouldn't have happened if we hadn't had the opportunity to attend something like that.”
“Everybody thoroughly enjoyed it, and certain topics covered sparked interesting conversations between our group and previous groups."
The Care in Medicine seminars are part of a school wide educational intitiatve on the theme of caring skills in medicine. How medical student empathy can be promoted and supported in the educational environment is the focus of ongoing research led by Dr Donnelly.