The joint Dunhill Medical Trust and Medical Schools Council national student competition has been won by Seamus Cook from Brighton & Sussex Medical School.

In Spring 2019, following the publication of our report with Picker on the current state of education and training in health and social care for an ageing population, we announced our competition for medical students in collaboration with the Medical Schools Council. Medical students throughout the UK were invited to design a teaching session, in response to the report, that would engage and educate their peers on the topic of providing care for older people. Each participating medical school held their own competition, with the winners from each school being submitted to The Dunhill Medical Trust for a chance to win the “Winner of Winners” prize. It was wonderful to see the sheer variety in the submissions, and the review panel was really impressed by the quality and novelty of the winning entries.

Shortlisting was really hard, but it was our pleasure to welcome the three highest-scoring entrants to our 2019 Early Career Researcher Network forum to present their entries and submit to review and voting by the forum attendees.

Our shortlisted entrants were:

  • Aneeta John, Ashi Tanwar and Done Jeyaseelan from Barts & The London Medical School
  • Seamus Cook from Brighton & Sussex Medical School
  • Katherine Murdoch from Bristol Medical School.

Our 2019 ‘Winner of Winners’ finalists (from left to right): Done Jeyaseelan, Ashi Tanwar and Aneeta John (Barts & The London Medical School); Katherine Murdoch (Bristol Medical School); Seamus Cook (Brighton & Sussex Medical School).

Each were asked to present a 10-minute overview of their teaching intervention, followed by a Q&A session. Forum attendees then ranked them using scoring rubrics they had created as part of an earlier learning session — an activity that also generated a lot of healthy debate and discussion!

We were delighted to announce that the overall winner of the competition was Seamus with his excellent intervention — “Time for Tea. Time for Talking.” Using a combination of simulation and group discussion, Seamus’s session aims to break down some of the barriers to good communication between medical students and older people, and to get students to reflect on the shared value of taking time to properly talk to older patients, rather than taking a “tick box” approach. In particular, the session emphasises that common items found by an older patient’s bedside (e.g. magazines, glasses, family photos) can act as cues to spark conversations that combine both the medical and ‘normal’. For example, students might consider asking if the people in a bedside photo are family members and if the patient has seen them recently, thus helping them to determine if a patient might be lonely. Similarly, through asking a patient if they have read their magazines, a student may determine if they are having trouble seeing — an issue that could contribute to low mood. Seamus has now taught the session to 2nd and 3rd year Brighton & Sussex Medical School students, alongside providing them with practical advice such as how to test a hearing aid battery (something few students knew how to do) and where to find replacements within the teaching hospital. It was brilliant to hear that the feedback Seamus has received from students has been overwhelmingly positive, with Brighton & Sussex Medical School now keen to incorporate the teaching session into their curriculum more widely. Seamus has also been using pre- and post-session questionnaires to gauge changes in students’ confidence, competence and opinions on conversing with older patients; looking forward, he hopes to conduct further work to validate his questionnaires and to investigate whether the intervention has a longer-term impact on students’ approaches to communicating with older people.

The Trust would like to thank all of the national finalists for their time and effort in creating their teaching interventions, and to congratulate them on their excellent presentations at the event.

In response to the competition, Susan Kay, Executive Director of The Dunhill Medical Trust, said: “Seeing our finalists’ presentations has given me increased confidence that the next generation of health and social care professionals will be better equipped to deal with the unique issues of caring for an ageing population. We were hugely impressed with all of their teaching interventions and would love to see them developed further in the future. Following the success of this year’s competition, we certainly intend to run it again next year and we hope that even more students will be inspired to take part.”