Interactive, comprehensive and practical - life as a student on the MSc in Medical Education

Alex Wilson, a clinical teaching fellow at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, describes his experience as a student on the MSc in Medical Education course.

I’m currently doing my PG Certificate in Medical Education, alongside being a clinical teaching fellow. I’d been involved in teaching at medical school and during my foundation years and always found it interesting and invigorating, so being a teaching fellow seemed like a sensible next step. Looking around, the RCP medical education programme seemed to be well-established and practically oriented, and several senior colleagues had recommended it so it seemed a logical partner to my teaching role.

As a part-time course, it is split into blocks of face-to-face teaching followed by assignments. The teaching days are intense, but have been really fun. They are held at the RCP (with great lunches!), and are nothing like being back at med school.

It seems obvious, but the teachers on the course are really good at teaching. It’s interactive, focused on the practical aspects of delivering good teaching sessions with opportunities to practices, while also covering the educational theory. It has meant that I can try out techniques and styles, work out what does and doesn’t go down well before I teach my own students and actually understand why.

It’s interactive, focused on the practical aspects of delivering good teaching sessions with opportunities to practices, while also covering the educational theory.

Meeting other people on the course has been just as valuable. From senior consultants in charge of training programmes to junior doctors interested in medical education, we can rant about our common difficulties, learn from the mistakes of others and share our own nuggets of wisdom.

I am only part way through the year, but the assignments so far have been interesting. While we were given some general guidance, the actual content was free for us to decide and I’ve found it quite difficult to narrow down a topic or area for both the literature review and the evaluative study. It’s been a few years since I wrote an essay, let alone came up with my own title or question. I’ve already learnt that word counts are always smaller than you think they are, and just how important it is to do plenty of reading before you pick a title (though you’ll probably change the title half-way through anyway).

But it’s meant that we can focus on how we’re teaching now and what we’re interested in instead of parroting eponymous principles and theories without any understanding of how to use them. For me, this is what has made it worthwhile – I actually feel like I’m becoming a better teacher. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.

For the first time, the RCP is hosting a MSc in Medical Education webinar on 29 March, live on this website. The event will offer talks from  course director Dr Jonathan Cartledge, past and present students on the programme, and an exclusive live question and answer session.

Applications for the MSc in Medical Education 2017–18 are now open. For more information please contact postgraduate@rcplondon.ac.uk.