The purpose of the study was to evaluate the syllabus and teaching methods used for leadership and management learning in medical school courses, in order to inform the development of the University of Portsmouth medical school curriculum.
The study adopted mixed methods to collect data. Primary data was collected through semi-structured virtual interviews with recent graduates from medical schools (and/or those undertaking foundation training) in the South East region, as well as through online surveys conducted with experienced GPs who are members of Primary Care Networks in the region. Secondary data was collected through conducting a review of different university websites. The project was reviewed and approved for funding by the Faculty of Health and Science, University of Portsmouth.
Our review of FMLM accredited universities indicates that most schools adopt a spiral curriculum that focuses on the core scientific foundations of medicine and clinical skills in the first two or three years of the programmes, with an emphasis on gaining practical clinical experience in the later years. Leadership and management learning (and sometimes ethics and law) is mainly covered in the student selected components (SSCs), elective modules or through additional resources. A wide range of teaching methods are usually adopted, and include more traditional lectures, seminars, workshops, small group sessions, case-based tutorials, simulations and placements. Assessments are similarly varied, and include both formative and summative assessments such as case reports, presentations, written multiple-choice and essay type exams, reflective writing and clinical assessments.
The survey and interviews with experienced GPs and junior doctors respectively indicate both groups generally acknowledge leadership and management learning as crucial and relevant for medical students. However, we also find that such learning is generally (with a few exceptions) not fully integrated within the main curriculum, but instead offered as part of the student elective modules. The same applies to modules on ethics, law and governance. In addition, our findings highlight the fact that leadership and management learning is usually implicitly, rather than explicitly, taught in medical schools. We would therefore recommend that greater emphasis is placed in highlighting the relevance of such learnings to students in order to increase student engagement. This also calls for identifying flexible ways of incorporating such learning within the main curriculum, and possibly taking advantage of any overlaps with existing modules.