Meducate Academy contributes expertise to The Pharmacy Show, offering interactive workshops that empower pharmacists to handle patient challenges effectively

Meducate Academy’s Summer Adventures: Collaborations and Preparations

Clinical examiners and Associate Clinical Educators working together on a Chester University Physician Associate OSCEs
Clinical examiners and Associate Clinical Educators working together on a Chester University Physician Associate OSCEs

A Sneak Peek into Meducate Academy’s Busy Summer Break

Summer is often a season of relaxation and leisure, but for Meducate Academy, the months of July and August are far from quiet. While the classrooms may be emptier, our commitment to excellence in medical education continues. As we take a brief hiatus from our regular teaching schedule, we find ourselves immersed in a whirlwind of collaborations and preparations that promise exciting developments for the upcoming academic term.

Teaching and Preparations in Progress

While the halls of Meducate Academy might echo with fewer footsteps during these months, they are far from silent. Our dedicated team is hard at work, ensuring that we are well-prepared for the academic year ahead. A few select sessions are still being conducted, particularly focusing on teaching Physician Associates and getting ready for the challenges that the new term will bring.

Recently, we wrapped up an intensive series of teaching sessions for the Physician Associate program at Chester University. To put our students’ skills to the test, we organized two days of Mock OSCEs. The results of these exams were encouraging, though we must maintain confidentiality regarding the specific outcomes. What we can reveal is the dedication of our team and the remarkable efforts put forth by our Associate Clinical Educators who truly shone during these two crucial days.

Forging New Alliances and Celebrating Success Stories

The quieter moments of summer provide us with the perfect opportunity to extend our reach and create new partnerships. This year has seen the birth of some truly remarkable collaborations that are set to take Meducate Academy to new heights. While confidentiality prevents us from naming all our partners, we’re thrilled to share a glimpse of the exciting ventures that lie ahead.

One of our most noteworthy partnerships is with Cliniskills, a group of healthcare professionals and experts in healthcare higher education. Drawing from their firsthand experiences in patient care, Cliniskills understands the challenges of upskilling while managing the demands of a clinical profession. They are dedicated to transforming healthcare through targeted development that adapts to evolving service needs in both the public and private sectors. As a part of their mission, they offer comprehensive, national-scale training that delivers lasting impact.

We’re honoured that Cliniskills has placed its trust in us to assist in delivering some of this training as Associate Clinical Educators and Medical Roleplayers. Our collaboration will kick off with courses starting in September in Birmingham, followed by sessions in Slough, Bristol, and Manchester. This news is incredibly exciting for us, and it stands as a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team of ACEs.

Chester University ACEs and examiners working together on day 2 of the Physician Associate OSCEs
Chester University ACEs and examiners working together on day 2 of the Physician Associate OSCEs

A Spotlight on Consultation and Clinical Skills Workshops

And, as if that weren’t enough excitement, we’ve also been invited to contribute our expertise to The Pharmacy Show. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our proficiency in consultation and clinical skills through interactive workshops. The chance to engage with a diverse audience of healthcare professionals is a testament to the reputation we’ve built and the knowledge we’ve amassed over the years.

Exciting Workshops at The Pharmacy Show: Empowering Pharmacists

At The Pharmacy Show, we’re excited to present three immersive workshops, each lasting 45 to 60 minutes, on both event days. Our main focus is on addressing challenges that Pharmacists commonly encounter when dealing with demanding patients. The workshop sessions are structured as follows:

  1. Introduction to Meducate Academy and Speakers: Get introduced to the purpose of Meducate Academy and a brief overview of the speakers.
  2. Unveiling the Art of Communication: Explore the fundamental aspects of effective communication in healthcare settings.
  3. Establishing and Nurturing Rapport in Difficult Conversations: Dive into the skill of building and maintaining rapport during challenging discussions.
  4. Mastering Active Listening Techniques: Acquire valuable techniques for active listening, and enhancing patient interactions.
  5. Deciphering the Anatomy of a Poor Consultation (Scenario): Engage in a scenario-based analysis of elements contributing to an unfavourable consultation
  6. Insights from Associate Clinical Educators and Participants: Benefit from insights shared by Associate Clinical Educators and fellow attendees.
  7. Showcasing a Model Consultation: Witness a demonstration of a successful consultation that embodies best practices.
  8. Interactive Question and Answer Session: Engage interactively to seek clarifications and interact with our experts.

Meducate Academy’s workshops at The Pharmacy Show promise to empower Pharmacists with actionable skills and insights, enabling them to adeptly navigate challenging patient interactions. This exceptional opportunity equips you to enhance your communication prowess and enrich patient care. Join us in our endeavour to transform healthcare interactions for the better.

Final Thoughts

As the summer sun warms the days, Meducate Academy remains steadfast in its commitment to excellence. The seemingly quiet months of July and August are, in reality, a hive of activity as we collaborate with exceptional partners, prepare for the new academic term, and celebrate the successes that continue to fuel our passion for medical education. The journey ahead is filled with promise, and we can’t wait to share all that we’ve learned and accomplished with our students, partners, and the entire medical community. Stay tuned for more updates as we embark on this exciting chapter of growth and discovery!

 

If you’re a Pharmacy Clinical Lead and wish to discuss working with Meducate Academy Ltd., we would love to give you a demonstration and a workshop at your institution.

Please contact: bobspour@meducateacademy.com or on 07870 611850

Adapt, Improvise, Excel: How ACEs Deliver Effective Educational Content

University of Newcastle Physician Associate 2nd year cohort
We were invited to teach MSK skills to University of Newcastle Physician Associate 2nd year cohort in preparation for their upcoming OSCEs.

Being an Associate Clinical Educator (ACE) is a rewarding and dynamic role that contributes to the education and growth of future healthcare professionals. The ACEs receive immense fulfilment from positive student feedback and witnessing their progress. The job brings excitement and unpredictability, requiring adaptability and improvisation to deliver effective educational content. ACEs gain valuable experience from working with diverse clinicians, undergo regular training and evaluation to stay updated, and ensure the quality of education. Recently, at Newcastle University Medical School, a four-person ACE team provided comprehensive MSK examination training and extended support in other areas of healthcare education. The students appreciated learning from experienced ACEs and requested guidance on various exams. Despite time constraints, consultation skills were briefly covered, and a group Q&A session concluded the day. Gratitude was expressed to the university staff for their collaboration in creating a valuable learning environment.

Experienced Associate Clinical Educator (ACE), Mark Reynolds, collaborates with experienced clinicians from the FRCS (Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons) at the prestigious Royal Orthopaedic Hospital
Experienced Associate Clinical Educator (ACE), Mark Reynolds, collaborates with experienced clinicians from the FRCS at the prestigious Royal Orthopaedic Hospital

Working as an Associate Clinical Educator (ACE) is an incredibly fulfilling and stimulating role. ACEs play a vital role in the education and development of future healthcare professionals, and the rewards of this position are often experienced on a personal and professional level. The positive feedback received from students after a job well done is a source of immense fulfilment. Knowing that your efforts have contributed to their growth and progress is a testament to the significance of the ACE role.

One aspect that makes this role exciting is the unpredictability it brings. The subject matter can change at a moment’s notice, from cranial nerves to a cardio examination with a roleplay element added spontaneously. These unexpected twists and turns add an element of excitement and keep the role fresh and invigorating. As ACEs, it is crucial to be adaptable and ready to improvise, as this flexibility ensures the effective delivery of educational content.

The ability to adapt and improvise stems from the wealth of experience ACEs gain from working with clinicians from diverse backgrounds. This experience equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle various teaching scenarios. To ensure the continuous professional development of ACEs, regular training sessions and a rigorous evaluation process are implemented. These measures not only guarantee that ACEs are up to date with the latest advancements but also uphold the quality of education they provide.

Recently, at Newcastle University Medical School, we had the privilege of teaching MSK examinations to 2nd Year Physician Associate students. Musculoskeletal (MSK) is one of our specialties, and our expertise in this field is derived from training with renowned clinicians and collaborating with members of the FRCS. Our knowledge is cutting-edge, ensuring that students receive the most up-to-date information.

Experienced MSK ACE Howard takes the student through the details of a Spine examination at The University of Newcastle
At The University of Newcastle, experienced MSK Associate Clinical Educator (ACE), Howard, expertly guides students through the intricacies of a spine examination

The positive feedback we received from our previous visit to Newcastle prompted the university to invite us back for further training. While the students initially exhibited some reticence, having only practiced on each other, our four-person ACE team quickly alleviated their fears. The advantage of having a small student-to-ACE ratio allowed us to delve into details and answer their questions promptly and effectively. We covered a range of MSK examinations, including the hip, knee, shoulder, and spine. Additionally, we fulfilled requests for hand and ankle exams, ensuring a comprehensive learning experience. Our instruction included all the special tests for MSK, providing continuous feedback to aid their learning. The students greatly appreciated the opportunity to learn from experienced ACEs rather than relying solely on practicing with their peers. One student even humorously remarked that it was a case of the blind leading the blind!

Surprisingly, some students were amazed at our level of knowledge of other body systems. They requested that we check their cardio, GI, and respiratory exams ahead of their upcoming OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations). As ACEs, our expertise extends beyond our specialization, allowing us to provide guidance and support in various areas of healthcare education.

Although time constraints prevented us from fully exploring consultation skills, we provided the students with a brief overview of the basics. We reassured them that their history-taking skills were up to par for their current stage of training.

As the day came to an end, we conducted a group Q&A session to address any remaining questions. We expressed our gratitude to the students for their active participation and made the journey back to Birmingham, reflecting on the meaningful interactions and knowledge shared.

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Alice Fitzpatrick, Year 2 & EDI Lead for MSc Physician Associate Studies, and Emma McAllister, Degree Program Director, MSc Physician Associate Studies, for granting us the opportunity to teach at Newcastle University. Their support and collaboration have been instrumental in fostering a rich learning environment for the students.

In Other News…

Exciting times are ahead for Meducate Academy as we prepare to launch our latest offering: Pharma Pathways. This is a programme of training designed to support clinical pharmacists. In collaboration with experienced Clinical Lecturers in Clinical Pharmacy, we aim to assist pharmacists in meeting the new government directive regarding consultation and clinical skills training. Through our dedicated ACEs and Medical Roleplayers, who possess decades of experience working with healthcare professionals such as Physician Associates and Nurses, we are committed to delivering comprehensive support.

Currently, Meducate Academy supplies ACEs and Medical Roleplayers to pharmacy programs at both the University of Wolverhampton and Birmingham, further expanding our reach and impact in the field of healthcare education. Pharma Pathways has been created to offer educators access to ACEs and Medical Roleplayers.

In conclusion, the role of an Associate Clinical Educator is undeniably fulfilling, interesting, and exciting. It provides opportunities for personal growth and professional development while positively influencing the education and future careers of aspiring healthcare professionals.

 

If you’re a Pharmacy Clinical Lead and wish to discuss working with Meducate Academy Ltd., we would love to give you a demonstration and a workshop at your institution.

Please contact: bobspour@meducateacademy.com or on 07870 611850

Mastering The Skill of Listening: A Key To Patient-Centred Care

Image showing Meducate Academy teaching consultation skills to a group of pharmacists during their Clinical Pharmaceutical Team Meeting.
Meducate Academy Teaching Consultation Skills to Pharmacists at their Clinical Pharmaceutical Team Meeting

In this article, we explore the role of ACEs in healthcare education and the importance of effective communication skills. We discuss the impact of active listening on building rapport with patients and avoiding miscommunication. Drawing insights from experienced pharmacists, we address the challenges of difficult conversations in healthcare. We also highlight the wisdom of Plutarch and the practicality of Anatol Rapoport’s rules for navigating such conversations. By emphasizing the collaborative nature of communication and its life-saving potential, we stress the significance of effective listening skills. ACEs and healthcare professionals are encouraged to prioritize listening as a foundational skill and utilize tools like the Rappoport Rules for improved communication.

Image of Agenda of Pharmaceutical Team Meeting at Dudley College of Technology
Pharmaceutical Team Meeting at Dudley College of Technology Agenda featuring Meducate Academy

How often do you hear what someone is saying but fail to truly listen? How frequently do you find yourself waiting for the person to finish speaking so that you can assert your own thoughts, often with a prepared speech centered around your own agenda, without genuinely addressing the original question? These are the subjects I intend to explore in my writing this month.

As ACEs (Associate Clinical Educators), it is necessary and important that we provide accurate feedback on students’ technical competencies. The feedback should, of course, be relevant and precise, enabling the students to develop as safe practitioners. Another essential aspect of our role is to assist students in developing effective communication tools to establish rapport and gain the trust of simulated patients. This becomes particularly relevant when students embark on their journey to master the art of effective history-taking, marking their initial exploration of the realm of effective communication.

I always emphasize to students that the essence of communication lies in the response one receives. This is crucial because failing to genuinely listen to the patient can result in miscommunication. Each party brings their own agenda to the conversation – the clinician and the patient have their respective goals. It is no wonder that communication can be seen as something of a dark art. Therefore, the role of the ACE is to carefully guide the students through the process.

Always remember that a conversation is a partnership. It is a collaborative process, led by the patients’ ideas, concerns, and expectations, with the clinician and the patient working together.

This topic emerged during a recent Clinical Pharmaceutical Team Meeting held at Dudley College, where my colleague Mark Reynolds and I were invited to speak about Enhancing Consultation Skills to a group of highly experienced Pharmacists. In addition to discussing generic communication skills, we presented a couple of scenarios illustrating poor and effective communication and engaged in discussions on the points raised.

One of the key themes that emerged from the pharmacists was the common problem of patients demanding specific drugs, such as antibiotics, and how to handle such situations. Another recurrent theme was the instances of angry patients being informed about the cost of prescriptions. In other words, the main focus of the discussion revolved around managing difficult conversations.

Effectively navigating a difficult conversation requires active listening, and most of the attendees were eager to hear our thoughts on this matter. Like any skill, it demands constant practice and simply paying attention to the conversation. However, finding the time to listen is challenging in today’s busy pharmacy or GP surgery, where restrictions are imposed on the duration of patient interactions. Nonetheless, learning this skill is vital.

In order to build rapport and gather important information, we allow the patient to talk and express their needs. This is of utmost importance.

Greek philosopher Plutarch, Greek philosopher philosopher, writer, magistrate and priest
Plutarch, Greek philosopher, writer, magistrate, and priest who lived during AD 46, extensively wrote about the subject of listening

Plutarch, the philosopher, writer, magistrate, and priest who lived during AD 46, extensively wrote about the subject of listening. It might be useful to briefly examine his views, as expressed in one of his letters to a young man about to embark on his studies. He discusses different types of listeners: the Lazy Listener, the Scornful Listener, the Excited Listener, and the overly confident listener.

The lazy listener is someone who only listens for information that interests them and shows no interest in what the speaker is saying. They wait for their turn to expand on their own interests, paying little attention to the speaker’s main topic of conversation. The scornful listener is judgmental of alternative ideas or beliefs, as they adhere strictly to their own set of values and beliefs. Plutarch notes that judgment is, in fact, a distraction of the mind, and these types of listeners tend to develop a distorted view of what is actually being said. It is better to have an open mind, he says – a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. We must not let the speaker’s performance distract us from paying attention. Otherwise, we will quickly forget our purpose and potentially miss valuable information. Finally, Plutarch talks about the Overconfident Listener, who assumes they know what the speaker means right from the start and fails to listen for subtle, sometimes hidden, cues in the conversation. When this happens, it is important to step back and actively listen.

Even Plutarch recognized that a conversation is a collaborative process. The responsibility for the outcome of a conversation rests with the listener and with healthcare professionals. Achieving the correct outcome is crucial, and listening can literally save lives.

Throughout my experience as an actor, comedian, corporate trainer, NLP trainer, and associate clinical educator, I have employed various methods to teach communication skills to students in different fields of study. From armed response teams to salespeople, from actors to presenters, and more recently to physician associates, pharmacists, nurses, and young doctors, the process remains the same: learning to listen first and foremost.

At the recent Team Meeting in Dudley, I extensively discussed the use of Rapoport Rules as a valuable tool for communication skills. I encountered these rules a few years ago and have always wondered why they are not more widely known. Anatol Rapoport, a Russian-born American game theorist, developed a set of rules for handling difficult conversations:

  • Clearly re-express your conversation partner’s position, defining your understanding of what they want. This ensures clarity in the conversation and prevents you from straying off course with your own assumptions.
  • List points of agreement with your partner to develop rapport further.
  • Always mention something you have learned from the person you are talking with, further building agreement.
  • Only then can you proceed to disagree or compromise with the person. You can see how these rules can be helpful when patients hold fixed beliefs about vaccines, antibiotic use, or various other treatment-related ideas.

I encourage you to follow and practice these steps each time you engage in a difficult conversation. If you are an ACE, please be aware of these tools and pass these skills on to students during their history-taking sessions. The positive impact will be appreciated by everyone.

Next month, I will be talking about our work with Newcastle University PA program teaching musculoskeletal (MSK) examinations.

 

If you’re a Pharmacy Clinical Lead and wish to discuss working with Meducate Academy Ltd., we would love to give you a demonstration and a workshop at your institution.

Please contact: bobspour@meducateacademy.com or on 07870 611850

15 Questions to Test Your Skills as an Associate Clinical Educator

Meduucate Academy ACEs with Medical students at the University of Chester
If you’re an Associate Clinical Educator (ACE), you may have wondered what sets you apart from a simulated patient or medical role player. In this article, we will be exploring this question and providing a useful questionnaire that will help you become a better ACE, teacher, and communicator. Our goal is to improve the quality of ACEs by answering important questions and providing helpful training resources.

How well do you really know your role as an Associate Clinical Educator? I have been thinking for a while now about creating a quiz for ACEs. I wanted to find out what makes an ACE more than just a simulated patient or medical role player. I believe the following questionnaire will help us become better Associate Clinical Educators, as well as better teachers and communicators.

Over the past couple of years, Meducate Academy has been putting together training courses to help existing ACEs and simulated patients improve their existing skills and introduce new people to the role of the ACE. We are always striving to improve the quality of our ACEs, and in order to do that, we always listen to what they have to say.

When I was starting out, many of these questions were never answered satisfactorily, and after much discussion with our existing ACEs, they all seemed to ask the same questions.

On the 13th of this month (May 2023), we will be running another one-day training course aimed at potential ACE. These are normally people who have been medical role players or have some experience as simulated patients and wish to take it to the next level.

If you are one of those people, you might find it helpful to ask yourself these questions below. If you are an experienced ACE, you could revisit this questionnaire or add more questions to the list.  So, get a sheet of paper and answer these questions now.

1. When did you first start working as a medical role player and why?
2. When did you start working as an ACE, and how easy was the transition?
3. How often do you work as a medical role player or ACE?
4. What types of students have you worked with, and did their needs differ?
5. Have you been involved in OSCEs or any other type of examination?
6. Was the training we gave you adequate, or do you feel it was confusing?
7. What type of training would you find most useful?
8. Which aspect of your previous training (prior to medical roleplay/simulated patient/ACE) has helped you engage with your current role?
9. Where do you find resources that help with your current role?
10. What new resources would you find useful to help you improve the quality of teaching?
11. How much do you think your personality affects the learning outcome, and do you think you should spend more time on that aspect of your training?
12. Do you know how to teach a student how to develop rapport with a difficult patient?
13. What do you get, at a personal level, from teaching as an ACE?
14. How do you structure feedback to the student?
15. Do you always achieve your desired outcome when teaching, and if not, do you reflect on what you could do better next time?

We came up with these initial 15 questions, but we welcome any suggestions. As we ask these types of questions to our new ACEs, it’s essential to understand that none of us are experts or masters of our craft.  Acknowledging that there is always room to learn something new helps us stay vigilant. Our honesty fosters implicit trust from our students, and they feel that we are with them on their journey.

The type of people we are looking for are those who say, “C’mon chaps, let’s get stuck in,” not “Go on, chaps, off you go.” Lead from the front. We are there to work with the students, not talk at them. Build rapport with the students, have the flexibility to change your behaviour when you need to, be aware, and you and the students will achieve their desired outcomes.

Have an open mind and question everything! At the end of the day, that is what education should be about. That is how we grow and become better humans.

If you are interested in joining us or want to have a chat about our one-day training course aimed at potential ACEs on 13th May 2023 get in touch. Please contact: bobspour@meducateacademy.com or on 07870 611850

 

Become an ACE in Medical Education: Free Training Course Available Now!

Do You Want To Be Part Of Our Team?

Are you an Actor, Role-player or retired Clinician who would like to get involved in our ACE training programmes?

We are looking for people with the following attributes

Skills?

Do you have a desire to develop new skills yourself and really make a difference?

Communication?

Do you enjoy the act of communication?

Passion?

Do you have a passion to help students develop their skills?

Are you a medical role-player looking for new opportunities to expand your skills and knowledge? Meducate Academy has the perfect solution – a free Associate Clinical Educator (ACE) training course on the 13th of May 2023

The course will be held at The University of Wolverhampton and will provide attendees with a comprehensive introduction to basic body systems examinations and feedback techniques with the help of experienced clinicians. In addition, drinks, lunch, and a manual to further your knowledge and understanding will be provided on the day.

And this is just the beginning! As an ACE, you will have ongoing training to continue building your practical examination skills and responsibilities to students and clinicians. It’s a challenging and rewarding role that involves working with the same team of clinicians and students over a period of two years or more.

At Meducate Academy, we have been busy developing relationships with institutions across the UK and are keen to find medical role-players who want to expand their portfolio of skills. The ACE training course is just one of the many opportunities available to those looking to advance their careers in medical education.

But what does it mean to be an Associate Clinical Educator? It means being part of a team that is dedicated to providing high-quality education and training to the next generation of healthcare professionals. It means using your knowledge and experience to help students develop the skills they need to succeed in their future careers.

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys working with students, learning new skills, and collaborating with professionals, then the ACE role may be right for you. Check out the videos below to learn more about what it means to be an ACE and the impact you can have on medical education.

Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity to take your career to the next level. Sign up for the ACE training course today and start your journey towards becoming an Associate Clinical Educator. Time is running out – act now!

If you are a Medical Roleplayer and would like to take your skill set to the next level, sign up for our training courses in 2023. Our next one is on May 13th 2023 and it’s free! Give Bob a call on 07870 611850 if you would like more details or want to ask anything about our courses. Or sign up in the below form for more information about the course.

 

The Associate Clinical Educator (ACE) successfully combines the role of the simulated patient and lay teacher involved in the training of health professionals of all kinds. From medical students to physician associates, from dental students to nurses and many, many more.

The ACE is a hands on resource for the student. They provide the student a chance to get quite literally hands on with an experienced simulated patient. It gives the student the opportunity to put into practice the theory they learn in the classroom from tutors and medical textbooks. The opportunity for them to work with a ‘real person’ who can present as a healthy patient or one who has a variety of pathologies.

ACEs are not clinicians, and their backgrounds are varied. Some may have a background in performance and others in teaching. Some are already medical role players, but this is not a requirement. The desire to teach and assist students in order to help them become better and safer clinicians is our chief priority. An ACE should therefore be able to give structured feedback to the student in a way that helps them learn and improve their skill sets.

An ACE of course has their own skill sets to learn too, and with that in mind we are putting a campaign together to recruit new role players and ACEs to the organisation. So, whatever your background, there may be a place in Meducate Academy for you.

We have training programmes that are designed to get you up to speed in no time at all. You will then work alongside our more experienced people to consolidate those skills.

All of our ACEs and roleplayers are self-employed and payment is made by invoice. We pay industry standards and some of our ACEs work most weeks of the year.

We are also on the lookout for experienced clinicians to work alongside our ACEs. Contact us about this very important role.

Good rates, good conditions and a successful and helpful team are waiting for you to join them.

Meet The Team

Meducate Academy group photo of team of associate clinical educators

Based in the West Midlands, Meducate boasts a great mix of Academics and Entrepreneurial people including Clinicians, Lay Educators and others who have been involved in almost 50 years of corporate and business development training.

Our aim is to provide Colleges and Universities that run these educational programmes with teams of highly trained and experienced Clinicians, Clinical Leaders, Associate Clinical Educators (ACE) and Professional Medical Role Players.

Bob Spour

Bob Spour

Training Director

Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman

Finance Director

The Role of Independent Prescribing Course in Enhancing Healthcare Professionals’ Skills

PA students engaging with the interaction between ACEs and Clinicians at Chester University

The Independent Prescribing Course is an essential component of healthcare education, equipping professionals with the skills and knowledge required to prescribe medication safely and effectively. The course covers clinical skills, legal and ethical considerations, and patient care, enhancing the quality of healthcare services provided to patients. This article highlights the significant role of the Independent Prescribing Course in empowering healthcare professionals to take on greater responsibilities in their practice. By preparing professionals to prescribe with confidence, the course contributes to modern healthcare education and practice.

Working as an ACE offers numerous opportunities to collaborate with a diverse group of healthcare professionals, which is one of the most rewarding aspects of this profession, in addition to witnessing students’ success in their exams and progression into becoming skilled clinicians. Although our primary focus has been on Physician Associates, we have recently been granted the privilege of working with Pharmacists and prospective international students who seek admission to the University of Chester’s new MbChb Course.

Our founder, Bob, has been serving as a visiting lecturer at the University of Chester for the past two years and has been entrusted with the responsibility of assisting in the recruitment process of new international medical students. Bob’s duties involve working alongside a medical role-player to evaluate candidates’ ability to communicate effectively with patients who have underlying medical issues. The situation presented to the candidates was not a medical diagnosis but rather a scenario that required them to showcase their problem-solving and rapport-building skills. This task can be challenging even for native English speakers, let alone for those with English as a second language. The interviews were conducted online, which posed a different set of challenges. We are pleased to note that our contribution has been highly appreciated, and the interviews are scheduled to continue for the next two months.

We have also been provided with an opportunity to collaborate with the University of Wolverhampton’s Pharmacy Program, wherein we have supplied ACEs to their current curriculum. Working alongside Pharmacists has been a different kind of challenge as they are expected to have a fundamental understanding of some clinical skills in addition to their ability to prescribe the appropriate medication to patients. Our collaboration with the Clinical Lead, Teresa Dowsing, of the current PA Program and the teaching staff of the Wolverhampton Pharmacy Course has been instrumental in achieving success in this initiative.

We have also been asked to help students prepare for the Independent Prescribing Course, which is another exciting development for us.

Meducate Academy Associated Clinical Educators Greg and Bob working together with clinicians make a formidable teamThe Independent Prescribing Course is a medical education program designed to equip healthcare professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge to prescribe medication independently. This course is typically intended for healthcare professionals such as pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists and optometrists who are required to prescribe medication as part of their professional responsibilities.

The Independent Prescribing Course aims to enhance the healthcare professional’s ability to prescribe safely, effectively, and appropriately within their clinical competence. This includes the ability to identify clinical signs and symptoms, diagnose medical conditions, and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

The course also covers aspects related to the legal and ethical aspects of prescribing medication, such as informed consent, record-keeping, and confidentiality. Upon completing the course, healthcare professionals are eligible to register with the appropriate regulatory body, such as the General Pharmaceutical Council or Nursing and Midwifery Council, as independent prescribers.

The Independent Prescribing Course plays a crucial role in medical education by equipping healthcare professionals with the skills and knowledge to prescribe medication safely and effectively. This enhances the quality of care provided to patients and enables healthcare professionals to take on greater responsibilities in their practice, contributing to the delivery of high-quality healthcare services.

Despite these recent developments, we also continue to remain committed to working with Physician Associate students at both Chester and Wolverhampton on an ongoing basis.

If you are a Medical Roleplayer and would like to take your skill set to the next level sign up for our training courses in 2023. Our next one is on March 25th and it’s free! Give Bob a call on 07870 611850 if you would like more details or want to ask anything about our courses.

Bootcamp For Physician Associate Students At Chester University

The Meducate Team and some 2nd year PA students on their Bootcamp at The University of Chester

The Bootcamp for Physician Associate students at Chester University is an intensive training program designed to help students prepare for National Exams. It involves practising skills, receiving feedback from experienced trainers, and honing communication and consultation skills. The Bootcamp is structured over three days and covers a variety of conditions and scenarios, including multi-systems examinations. The program is designed to help students deal with stress and pressure in a simulated exam setting, and to conform to the standards required by OSCE assessors. The Bootcamp ends with the students having the opportunity to practice under exam conditions and receive feedback.

Who Dares Trains!

Putting the Physician Associate student through their paces.

I think it is essential to define what I mean by Bootcamp. The definition of a boot camp is an intensive way to obtain knowledge about a specialisation. In the case of the Physician Associate program, these are related to medicine.

A common practice is to take the students (usually 2nd years) through a whole range of skills working with ACEs, mannequins and clinicians to help them hone their skills and then receive focused feedback at the end of the process.

The idea of the Bootcamp comes from the military where soldiers are put under intense pressure and made to perform the skills they have learnt in their area of expertise. Unlike the military, we do not shout at students but guide them with structured feedback. They do feel pressured to perform which helps them deal with the stress of their upcoming OSCEs. This is also a valuable skill for a PA as they will inevitably find themselves outside of their comfort zone when out in the workplace. In particular Emergency Medicine and Breaking Bad news.

Bob works with students on the intensive bootcamp held at the University of ChesterThe ACE plays a very important part in this process, and because of their high level of knowledge and skill can replicate the patient journey in fine detail. This is what distinguishes us from volunteers or role-players, who give high-fidelity feedback on more than just communication skills. An Ace is trained to give feedback on the way a student handled the patient, and the efficacy of the techniques they are using. For example, the way the student auscultates and percusses the patient or the way the student used palpation.

Did the student perform the examination using the accepted methodology? Did they conform to the standards required by the OSCE assessors?

Each institution has its way of running the boot camps, but generally, the structure is something like this:

Day One: Introduction to the methodology and approach expected from the student. Consultation skills: History taking on a variety of conditions to be determined by the academic staff.

Challenging scenarios related to the workplace. It is not just patients that can be a challenge, but colleagues too, so it is important to learn how to have difficult conversations.

Day one usually ends with a group discussion about what they would like to cover over the remaining 2 days. At Chester University, the students worked with 4 experienced ACEs and we covered Cardio, Respiratory and GI. We practised them as stand-alone examinations and blended them, where a patient would present with a pathology that required a multi-systems approach. The students always find this a challenge but usually do well at this level of their training.

We also worked through MSK and Neurological examinations.

For a Physician Associate to prepare for National Exams it is always great for the team at Meducate Academy to get the feedback they deserve. We work hard to ensure the students get the best tuition and feedback.

The two years working with this cohort have flown by, as they say, and it has been a journey filled with surprises and detours. Plain sailing and a few rough patches, but when all is said and done we got there in the end!

PA Students sent a thank you letter to Meducate Academy teamBoot camps are a great way to help the students tie up any loose ends they may feel they have in their understanding, and I am pleased to say we and the academics were there to support them.

I got the sense that the students were more than ready for the nationals and we wish them all the luck for their future as Physician Associates.

As an aside, it was also great to get a ‘thank you’ card from the students, which was totally unexpected but very welcome. I look forward to being at their graduation.

So, it is onwards and upwards for the coming year and 2023 promises to be a good one with us working closely with our partners and also with Pharmacists at Wolverhampton University.

If you’re a Clinical Lead or Senior Lecturer and want to have a chat with us about how we can add value to what you already get in touch. We would love to give you a demonstration and a workshop at your institution. Please contact: bobspour@meducateacademy.com or on 07870 611850

 

Associated Clinical Educators & Simulated Patients In Medical Education

Physician Associate students being taught by academic on a medical scenario using an associate clinical educator in the role of a patient
Physician Associate students were guided through an end-of-life scenario at Chester University

I want to answer a question I am regularly asked by academics, clinicians, students and other medical roleplayers: “How does an ACE differ from a medical roleplayer, a simulated patient and a volunteer patient?”

The following information draws on our 25 years of collective experience as medical roleplayers and ACEs. We have years of interaction with simulated patients, volunteers and medical roleplayers.

Let us start with volunteers.

In our experience, a volunteer is someone who offers their services to give something back to the NHS for free. They have little or no training and often have to use crib sheets to help them act like a patient for students. Whilst volunteers are of some value to the student, they are not trained or qualified to give constructive feedback on the techniques the student needs to learn.

A simulated patient is someone who acts as if they have a pathology, or uses their actual pathology, with a short backstory they must learn. They have not been trained to give specific feedback to the student about the techniques the students are employing. Simulated patients may be asked for feedback by the teaching team on how the student made them feel during the session. However, this information is fed back to the student by the training team, not by the simulated patient. During the session, the teaching staff will monitor student/patient interaction.

The Medical Role player on the other hand is someone who is usually a trained actor and has undergone some training with regard to communication skills. They are expected to give high-quality objective feedback from a third-person perspective to the student. They can, and often come out of their role to give instruction about how the student can improve their performance and increase empathy with the patient. They work on everything from a simple consultation (history taking) to playing difficult patients, challenging behaviours, suicide and mental health scenarios, as well as working with colleagues from other health professions. They will also play the role of consultants, doctors, nurses and paramedics when needed.

The Associate Clinical Educator (ACE) is a type of medical roleplayer who is exemplified by their in-depth knowledge of the various body systems and pathologies. The ACE is responsible for developing and delivering educational programs that utilize simulated patients and medical role-players. The ACE takes a comprehensive approach to develop these programs, ensuring that each program is designed to meet the specific needs of the learners.

The Associate Clinical Educator (ACE) takes the models of the simulated patient and medical role-player to a different level. Exemplified by in-depth knowledge of the various body systems and their pathologies. A medical roleplayer is an individual who is trained to simulate different medical scenarios in order to help students learn how to interact with patients. These scenarios can include breaking bad news, dealing with difficult patients, and end-of-life scenarios. The role-player is expected to provide objective feedback to the student on how they interacted with the patient, from the patient’s point of view. In order to do this, the role-player must have a basic understanding of communication training and be able to help the student improve their communication skills.

ACEs are highly trained professionals themselves, but also have in-depth knowledge of the various body systems and their pathologies. This makes them uniquely suited to running simulations that are as realistic as possible. This helps medical staff to be as prepared as possible for when they need to use these procedures in real-life situations.

Evidence of a mix of styles, from volunteers, experienced role players and ACEs, was exemplified by the work we did for Chester University at a recent training session with the first and second-year Physician Associate Students.  These students worked alongside nursing staff and social workers in an immersive exercise designed to allow the students the opportunity to work under the pressure of a simulated patient journey. The simulation suites were designed to replicate two busy hospital wards. In the simulation, there were patients presenting with dementia, alcohol dependency, gastrointestinal and cardiac problems, as well as the challenge of working with other health professionals.

The students were supervised by experienced members of the academic staff and the at the end of the simulation the students were given feedback by both the clinicians and the associate clinical educators.

If you are a clinician who would like your current group of Physician Associates to benefit from our expertise in medical simulation, get in touch with us now. Please contact: bobspour@meducateacademy.com.

A Week In The Life Of An Associate Clinical Educator

Clinical-Lead-James-Ennis-teaches-the-finer-points-of-systems-examination
Mark and Helen of Meducate Academy listen in as Clinical Lead James Ennis teaches the finer points of systems examination.

It’s always busy at Meducate Academy and some weeks are busier than others, but what is it an ACE does? What’s a typical week in the life of an ACE? It’s a question I often get asked by students and role-players and friends alike.

To answer that question I thought I’d keep a diary of a typical week and hopefully answer those questions. It might also help those medical role-players gain some insight as to whether they want to take the next step and start training to become an ACE and take their abilities to the next level.

So let’s take a look at a typical week.

The week started as it usually does with checking emails and messages that might be left on social media. LinkedIn seems to be the best one for keeping in touch with colleagues at institutions around the country and abroad.

Once that’s out of the way, I will usually look at some scenarios and teaching sessions that may be on the timetable that week. It always pays to prepare for some of the more technical sessions we are involved in. Cranial nerves examinations, for some reason, seem to scare ACEs as much as it does the students, but because I’ve been working as an ACE for over 12 years, I don’t find this as daunting.

The week we are looking at was varied and included respiratory, cardio and a brief session on Gastro Intestinal examinations.

As the students were first-year Physician Associates, it was important that I also understood what was required of me by the clinicians. Every clinician has their way of carrying out these types of examinations, and it’s important that we, as ACEs, ensure that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.

Experienced clinicians often take shortcuts in clinical practice when examining a patient. This is because they have many years of experience working in medicine. Students are often confused by this approach particularly because the methodology used in training is far more detailed.

My experience working as an ACE, has made me realise that students frequently get confused about this approach and what is required of them in terms of how they should examine a patient effectively, efficiently and safely.

ACE-Greg-Hobbs-answering-questions-from-1st-Year-Physician-Associates
ACE Greg Hobbs answering questions from 1st Year Physician Associates

I always use the driving test as an analogy. When we learn to drive, we have to be meticulous about every detail, and every nuance and develop the technique of driving until we have unconscious competence. Only then, once we have passed the test and thrown away the L plates do we learn to drive efficiently. Some things we needed to do to pass the driving test are no longer useful to us, so they’re discarded. It’s almost the same process as learning physical examinations. Once we have explained this to the students it becomes obvious why they have to learn a systems exam in such detail. When they have finally qualified this methodology shows its potential.

As an ACE, I always explain that my job is to guide them through the processes involved that will allow them to demonstrate in an OSCE just how competent they are examining one system at a time.

Once they move into the second year, the distinction blurs. Patients often have more than one pathology, so if a patient turns up with shortness of breath, there might be several causes. This is when the student thinks of the patient holistically and not as just one body system.

During this particular week, I had been asked to take 2nd years through a very brief, but focused, cardio and respiratory examination. This meant they had to start thinking logically and clinically about how to examine the patient, both from a respiratory and a cardiovascular perspective. Blending two systems examinations effectively is difficult. Teaching in this way is very rewarding, not just for the student but for the ACE. We also have to think about how best to teach these skills to the student.

The first-year students we taught this week were practising the Cardio examination and having to do it to the clock. As OSCEs are always timed, the students also have to deal with time pressure. A typical OSCE is 2 minutes of reading time and 8 minutes in the room with a patient and an examiner. In that 8 minutes, they only have 7 minutes to examine and 1 minute to give a management plan. The ACE needs to be aware of the acronym SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment and Recommendations).

Working like this can be stressful for the student, and part of our role is to keep the student motivated and confident: teaching and therapy all in one.

Prof Jim Parle looks on as Meducate Aacademy ACEs demonstrate their knowledge of the hand examination
We take accreditation seriously. Prof Jim Parle looks on as ACEs demonstrate their knowledge of the hand examination

The sessions above took place over two days with Physician Associate students. Later in the week, I worked alongside GPs in collaboration with Orthopathways. A medical training company developing new software to aid GPs in diagnosing and the treatment of MSK pathologies. I was playing the role of a patient with different pathologies and then giving feedback to the GP. I worked with twenty GPs during that month, and I look forward to continuing working with them again.

The week concluded with teaching history taking and communication skills to 1st-year students. An essential skill for any health professional and particularly important for Medical Students and Physician Associates. All ACEs have to have had some training in Medical Roleplay before they can become an ACE.

The above is an example of a busy week. Sometimes it is quieter due to holidays and students going out on placement. These are the times I employ to ensure that my skill set is still high by taking advantage of reading books on the subject and looking at online resources.

I have learned to be cautious of making assumptions about what is expected of the ACE. We need to be flexible about the programmes institutions run, as their teaching methodologies can vary. Each institution has its approach to the teaching of medicine, and the ACE must be aware of these differences. ACEs must keep up to date with the latest teaching methodologies that medical schools currently employ. It pays to get hold of the teaching materials the staff use at these institutions. These will assist you when working with the students.

For those of you who might wish to embark upon this career as an ACE, get in touch with us now. Please contact: bobspour@meducateacademy.com.

Meducate Academy: Building New Initiatives For The Physician Associate In GP Practice

Meducate Academy has recently been involved with building a new initiative in collaboration with a GP Practice and health authority in the South of England. There has been much talk of building PA Academies around the UK and Meducate Academy have now put a package together from the ground up to help any organisation interested in doing this.

At this point, I can’t give too many details but suffice to say it was an extensive project, and we had to gather all of our resources to make it possible.

From administration to clinical teaching, from simulation to accreditation, and from recruitment to installation, we have finally put together what we think is the complete package for newly qualified Physician Associates who have got their first job.

It’s often been the case that once a PA has finished their studies and got themselves a job that things will go well. However, the feedback we have been getting is that this is not normally the case and that new PAs feel like they’re a little unprepared for moving into the workplace. It’s true to say that the employer often doesn’t have the time or resources to help and that’s where the PA Academy can fit in.

This involves some help from the employer (GP Surgery for example ) where they will release the PA one day a week for an initial period and then learn skills at the academy that will help them function at a higher level once in the workplace.

We include an example of what we have been working on below:

The Proposal

Meducate Academy will:

  • Format the proposed timetable for over 36 weeks.
  • Each session will last 3 hours and will involve the use of 2 Associate Clinical Educators (ACEs) and will cover the most common conditions encountered by Physician Associates in the first 3-6 months of working in a GP setting.
  • Produce an overall timetable outlining the basic schedule followed by a more in-depth breakdown of what we will teach to the PA in each session, including the learning outcomes for each session.

We will cover the following common conditions encountered by PAs in this type of setting which will include:

  • Chronic conditions
  • MSK
  • Diabetes
  • Contraception
  • HRT
  • ENT
  • Headaches and Dizziness
  • Co-Morbid Conditions
  • Triage
  • Telephone consultations
  • Note-taking/Referrals

We would also expect to discuss topics that might be in the public eye, such as changes in NICE Guidelines and Prescribing.

We will prepare this timetable in collaboration with Mr. James Ennis, Clinical Lead of the PA Programme at Chester University, who has over 10 years of experience working as a PA and as an academic teaching PAs.

Objectives

To create an Academy which will provide quality, continued professional development to PA Graduates in their first year of practice.

Achieve consistent 5-star ratings from GPs Practices and Graduates. These will be collated through several review platforms relating to the services offered through the Foundation Academy.

Aims

Create a syllabus of education that supports the PA in their first year in practice.

Develop a mentor/buddy system for each PA.

Create a feedback system that takes information from both GPs and PAs. This will allow for continuous development and improvements within the academy.

Seven Reasons for using Meducate Academy

1. References available from Senior Clinical Professionals.

2. Fully insured.

3. Supported by Prof Jim Parle and James Ennis Clinical Lead at Chester University Medical School.

4. Meducate Academy established in 2018

5. Created an Internal Accreditation and training programme for all the Associate Clinical Educators (ACE).

6. Create links with FPA and RCP regarding accrediting elements of the material for PA accessing CPD points.

7. Currently working alongside Orthopathways, assisting them in the development of software to help GP referral for MSK pathologies.

8. Intended affiliation with MSK groups such as Arthritis, UK.

Programme Outline

2 days in GP practice (or other)–Support offered–GP Educator

2 days at Foundation Academy–Support offered by GP Educators & ACEs (Associate Clinical Educators). This is based on 8 PAs in attendance. A typical day comprises 2 X 3 hr sessions. 

Meducate Academy will create the syllabus. This will be signed off by the relevant clinicians. The syllabus will be based on information supplied by experienced Clinical Leads PAs and the attendees themselves.

We are currently conducting research based on the experiences of PAs who have been working in their chosen speciality for over 5 years. Results from which will help us determine the direction of the proposed course.

We will also collate feedback from the PA students who wish to attend the Academy. This approach will allow us to create a tailor-made programme comprising Student Directed Learning Modules (SDLM) TM.

 Creation of a feedback loop for continuous improvement and development.

 Regular Assessment of students every 3 months over the period of a 12-month timetable.

So, as you can see we have put a lot of effort into developing this model. Naturally, it will be subject to evaluation and ultimately evolution. If you are a clinician who thinks that this might help you with your current group of Physician Associates let us know. Please contact: bobspour@meducateacademy.com. We would love to have a chat and get some of your expert guidance.