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Parents as new educators – Paediatrics iBSc

Roisin BegleyWith increasing use and value being given to patient involvement in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education, there is a need to explore the what patients/ families can contribute to the educational process. Current practice is to use real and simulated patients in practical learning and assessment.

On the UCL iBsc in Paediatrics and Child Health we have been exploring the way parents can contribute to written assessments.


Caroline FParents with children with a chronic medical condition and extensive experience of children’s’ health services were invited student reflective essay’s on patient journey’s.

Student reflection aims to enhance learning using their own and others’ experiences along with relevant literature to improve their future practice. We compared parent and peer markers to medical (academic) markers, looking at the quality and usefulness of feedback given to students. All markers provided an overall mark, quantitative and qualitative feedback on:

  • presentation and structure
  • topic choice
  • reflection
  • further reading/references

Parents had similar views on topic choice and also rewarded inclusion of personal reflection, and impact on future practice. Parent gave more detailed feedback and acknowledgement of impact of ill health on parent’s relationships, siblings, wider family life and professional communication.

Medical and peer markers were more likely to award markers in the mid-range of grade 2:1 and 2:2 compared to parent markers whose marks were more evenly distributed through all grade categories. Differences in marks given by parents across all categories may represent their distance from the impact of grading to student progression and needs to be further explore if included in final allocated student marks.

Parent markers add a real life perspective as users of the service, offered constructive feedback, suggestions for improvements, and a previously unheard voice to the reflective practice of future doctors. Parents/patients along with peer and medical marker feedback are needed for holistic training of future doctors. Parent recruitment was the main limitations of our study, and they often have busy lives which may make keep to deadlines difficult.

Parents are keen to assist in the development of further doctors and therefore further discussion of how parent markers are selected, trained, compensated for their time and the impact on students’ reflective practice is required.

We would like to thank both the parent markers and the students for their participation in this study.


Roisin Begley, Education Fellow and Course Tutor

Caroline Fertleman, Consultant Paediatrician and Course Director


iBSc Paediatrics and Child Health

UCL Institute of Child Health and Whittington Health


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