At the end of November, UCL Medical School hosted a 2 day visit by the GMC, as part of its quality assurance activities. Ann Glasser and Paru Jeram from the QA Unit ably made sure that everything ran efficiently, and I helped to co-ordinate matters from an academic perspective. A number of staff and students took time from their busy schedules to attend the meetings. The GMC congratulated us on the smooth running of the visit, and we hope that it was an interesting experience for all those involved.
We have had some initial feedback from the visit, which was very positive. Students were enthusiastic about their undergraduate experience, which matches the results of the National Student Survey released earlier in the year. The GMC particularly praised our work in preparing students for practice and their transition to Foundation Year. They felt the student assistantships in the final year and the strong links we have with the Foundation School were important factors in this process: great news for Aroon Lal and the final year team. They also particularly highlighted our approach to PPI (patient and public involvement in medical education) and social determinants of health. This was well-deserved recognition of all the work put in by Anita Berlin and her team on “Today’s patients working with Tomorrow’s doctors,” the report from which is influencing future medical school policy. The GMC also noted that the inclusion of pedagogical research as part of the REF submission was commendable, and a sign of the commitment and quality of teaching research at UCLMS. Many members of staff contribute to this key research at the Medical School, and it is really heartening to see this recognised in such a high profile way.
The GMC did have some thoughts on where there were opportunities to improve the student experience. These included: timetabling issues and clarity of placements and their consistency; IT facilities and student space; teacher time for formative assessment in clinical placements; feedback on summative assessments; and clarity in the student support service. Many of these are areas on which are already working. We are grateful for all feedback on the implementation of the new curriculum and are working with staff and students across all sites to address the teething problems. Students would particularly like more feedback on summative assessments and the GMC recognises that UCL regulations at present shape our assessment policy, and this has encouraged us to think about how we can still improve feedback on while continuing to comply with them. Student support and personal tutoring is also an area for us to focus on, but we are all very encouraged by the enthusiasm of our new personal tutors and hope that this will be a great benefit to the future student experience.
We are pleased with the initial feedback and look forward to the full report in January, on which we can make comments. There will then be a review in February where we will provide additional information about the queries raised in the report, and from that we will construct an action plan. Many of the areas raised by the GMC as opportunities for improvement are already priorities for us, and we have already made progress in some areas.
Thank you to all the staff and students for their valuable contributions on the day, and for the enormous amount of work and preparation put into the documentation and planning. It could not have been such a success without you.
Will Coppola, Sub-dean and Vertical Module Lead