What is the Academic Medicine Student Pathway?
At Warwick, we encourage our medical students to develop as scholars as well as medics through offering opportunities to develop the three core strands within Academic Medicine.
Academic Medicine has been defined as “the branch of medicine pursued by doctors who engage in a variety of scholarly activities” (BMJ 2008). These ‘scholarly activities’ are by definition inclusive, but most frequently they comprise research, teaching and leadership duties (UKFPO 2018).
Why are these activities important?
Research is the key to achieving the cutting edge in patient care. It is through research that new therapeutic treatments are tested and developed. Such advances in research have translated into medical care, and over recent years has dramatically improved patients outcomes and life expectancy. Without developing the future succession of researchers coming into Medicine, the profession faces significant challenges of how it can sustainably continue to excel in effective developing treatments. Pressure on a limited number of researchers is likely to increase. Whilst much medical, biomedical and health research is undertaken by non-clinicians, the role of the clinical academic is acknowledged as critical both to the generation of hypotheses based on clinical exposure and expertise but also to maximise the full potential to translate research findings to improvement in patient care. Thus the concept of bench to bedside with clinical academics as a critical bridge.
Teaching is fundamental to preparing the next generation of doctors for the workforce. Excellent teaching not only induces deeper-level learning, but it engenders critical professional behaviours (curiousity, critical thinking etc.) in addition to inspiring and motivating learners. Many of our student peer-support teachers vouch for the beneficial effect that teaching others has on their own learning and exploration of medicine. Clinical educators are critical to the delivery of clinically focused teaching and also to ensuring context to other learning, ensuring such context remains current and relevant. Importantly, clinician educators perform an important role of ensuring the values and attitudes of the profession are demonstrated throughout the student learning experience. Furthermore, with forecasted growth in student numbers (and schools), in addition to the increasing recognition of medical education as a specialty, the national pipeline of such individuals is likely to be lacking.
Leadership is imperative to ensure the future of the NHS. Literature suggests that due to the “inherent tension between costs and patient welfare” (Bohmer 2012:6), only medically qualified leaders should make those kinds of judgements (ibid). Promoting opportunities for developing exposure to these complexities is certainly of benefit to the future shape of the NHS and an important part of the skills needed to build on these systems.