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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

The role of the Academic Faculty in Undergraduate Education

Statement from the Academic Faculty Executive Committee

High quality teaching of psychiatry to undergraduate medical students is crucial to the future provision of medical care. High quality teaching of psychiatry to undergraduate medical students is crucial not only to the future of psychiatry but also to future provision of medical care. Medicine is a university course and psychiatric education should be led by academic psychiatrists;  all psychiatrists have a professional duty to contribute to the teaching and training of the next generation of doctors.

Students will take psychiatry seriously if their learning experience is relevant to their work as doctors, if they are stimulated and excited by observing the complexities of psychiatric care, and if they are offered new and challenging ideas, including presentation of up to date research in psychiatry. The aim should be to ensure that all future doctors in every specialty respect and support the delivery of high quality psychiatric care across the life span, and that we encourage motivated students to consider a career in psychiatry.

1.      The Undergraduate Education Forum was established to bring together the undergraduate teaching leads in psychiatry from each UK medical schoolin order to promote discussion of core material for undergraduate teaching, provide agreement on the standards of learning in psychiatry expected of graduating doctors, and enable sharing of best practice and new initiatives across medical schools.

2.      Undergraduate teaching of Psychiatry should be led by University departments of Psychiatry, with designated academic psychiatrists taking a major role in undergraduate teaching. While other medical specialists, such as general practitioners, may play a role in teaching students about mental illness, curriculum design, delivery and assessment should remain the responsibility of psychiatrists. Academic psychiatrists will also teach modules and offer research projects in psychiatry for intercalated BSc degrees.

3.      Teaching should be recognised and rewarded. The Academic Faculty strongly supports academic promotion on the basis of excellence in teaching, while in the NHS, contribution to teaching should be a significant factor in evaluating applications for clinical excellence awards.

4.      Psychiatrists who teach medical students should have access to training in appropriate methods of teaching and in developing valid and reliable assessments. Such training should be a recognised part of CPD both for trainees and consultants.

5.      Consultants who teach medical students should have protected time for teaching students in their job plans and their  clinical load should be reduced accordingly. Trainees who teach should also have protected time.

6.      Trusts should be encouraged, and if necessary challenged, to explain how they use the funding of clinical teaching (Service Increment for Teaching), and they should account for how this funding contributes to additional service costs (see point 5).

7.      Teaching issues should be included within the Faculty annual meeting.

8.      High quality pedagogic research in psychiatry should be encouraged.

9.       Career paths and appropriate substantive posts should be available for clinical psychiatric teachers.

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