Integrating Population Health and Medical Sciences for undergraduate provision
Kerina Jones Associate Professor
Swansea University Medical School
Associate Professor Jodie Croxall
The aims of this poster presentation are to: 1) describe the rationale for integrating the teaching of population health science at undergraduate level; 2) show how the curriculum was developed with mapping to established frameworks; and 3) outline the anticipated benefits of this more holistic approach.
The global call for medical schools to develop education and training in population health requires a concerted approach in order to meet the challenges facing healthcare systems worldwide, with anticipated workforce needs for existing and emerging professions. Swansea University Medical School aspires towards an interdisciplinary approach to translational medicine which integrates ‘bench to bedside’ and population health approaches. Its world-leading research theme ‘Patients, Population Health and Informatics’, explores effective strategies to improve health and wellbeing and reduce inequalities among populations. Yet, our educational provision to date affords little opportunity for undergraduate students to benefit from this research excellence, as it has been largely focussed on the biomedical sciences.
This has been our rationale for bringing together two spheres of study that are otherwise artificially separated, to create one innovative programme: Population Health Sciences and Medical Sciences. Our intent is to move away from the compartmentalised position of being either focused on ‘molecule to man’ or ‘man to molecule’ in order to engender a more holistic understanding of human health and wellbeing.
We took an integrated, collaborative approach whereby we engaged with a series of advisory groups comprised of key stakeholders, to co-produce the core curriculum with us. To ensure quality, we mapped the curriculum to three established frameworks, including QAA. This has resulted in a unique, forward-looking programme focussed on providing students an understanding of the factors that influence population health through research-led teaching on the social, economic and demographic distribution of health and disease, and training to use evidence and analyse health data concerning outcomes, disparities and determinants of health. Our students will also develop fundamental knowledge, skills and competencies in biomedical sciences, and the ability to apply this knowledge in a range of settings, including medical practice, laboratories, research and enterprise and innovation.
We will present students with the core concept of integration, not separation, from the outset, and guide the component modules so it runs as a thread through the programme. We anticipate that the impact of this programme will be to create new cadres with a more up-to-date, rounded perspective on the wide array of factors that influence health and disease. This will avoid blinkered thinking and better equip graduates to achieve their potential in the developing world of work and research.
The presentation accords with the theme of the conference ‘Teaching with Impact: Innovate, Develop, Engage, Aspire’, as the approach we have taken to develop the programme has been innovative and collaborative. It will work towards achieving the aspiration for teaching in the Medical School, to break down arbitrary barriers between population health science and medical sciences to benefit student learning, their employability, and the organisations for whom they will work.
We will present in the form of a poster and will engage with the audience and answer questions they may have
Population health science, medical sciences, integration, curriculum design
1) The need for integration, not compartmentalisation, in health and medical teaching at undergraduate level
2) The value of engagement in integrated curriculum design
3) The benefit of having an overarching concept running as a thread through the programme content