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Patient involvement in medical education 

Patient involvement in medical education
Patient involvement in medical education

Angela Towle

and William Godolphin

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date: 01 December 2021

Patients have always been important in medical education, but their role has usually been as passive aids to learning. Active involvement of patients as educators has increased over the past 20 years as a consequence of government and professional policy directives relating to public and patient involvement in healthcare, moral imperatives related to social accountability, and the desire to broaden curricula to include the psychosocial aspects of health, promote patient-centred care and include the voices of those who are experts by experience. Patients are mainly involved in curriculum delivery and, to a much lesser extent, curriculum development and student assessment. In other professional programmes such as nursing and social work, a greater range of educational roles is found. Examples of active involvement occur throughout the continuum of medical education and include patients telling their stories; patients teaching clinical and communication skills; co-teaching with faculty; family attachment schemes; mentoring programmes; and community-based placements. Various classification schemes have been developed to assist the study and comparison of patient-as-teacher initiatives, especially focused on the degree of involvement in educational decision making. Patient involvement in education is viewed positively by learners, patients and professional educators. Evidence of short-term benefits has been demonstrated. However, educational initiatives involving patients are rarely informed by learning theory and rigorous studies of long term outcomes are lacking. Medical educators wishing to increase active patient involvement in their programmes need to attend to a variety of practical matters, including patient recruitment, preparation, support, and recognition. At the institutional level coordinated and sustained programmes of patient involvement in education require engagement with patient groups and community organizations in a non-tokenistic way to develop authentic partnerships.

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