Designed by two Welsh trainees, an innovative online platform to improve core medical training (CMT) has been received enthusiastically – gaining recognition across Wales and the UK in the process.
Dr Holly Morgan and Dr Melanie Nana launched ‘the Core’ in 2016, with a major update in January 2018.
Currently focusing on the first two years of CMT, the website centralises a number of key trainee resources, including hospital-specific information on CMT and educational tools, as well as having a forum for peer discussion.
For Holly (a final-year CMT trainee at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales,) and Melanie (now training in diabetes and endocrinology), the website responded to lots of issues related to the provision of CMT.
Particularly, many of their peers had expressed frustration at the booking process for study days (some compulsory) or clinical sessions with consultants, most of which were advertised ad hoc via email, with little promotion elsewhere.
“Clinics were a really big priority at the beginning of the idea,” Holly notes. “We thought, ‘Trainees are struggling to get to them, wouldn’t it be great if you could go on to an online system, and there would be a list of all the clinics going on in your hospital?’”
‘The Core’ is regularly updated to reflect upcoming clinical sessions; by registering an account, trainees can book onto the educational event of their choice.
So far, the website is used by around 300 trainees across all of Wales – with some of those even involved outside of CMT.
“It’s snowballed,” says Holly, “It was just an idea that we had that could help training be a bit better.
“Now, all of the important documents that trainees need at any point will also be on the website – they just have to go on there, rather than to the Wales Deanery’s website or to the RCP’s. It’s all in one place.”
‘The Core’ can also be used as a digital logbook, a vital tool that runs alongside e-portfolios to record notes of any witnessed medical procedures or adopted learning practices in the workplace.
“Before,” Holly notes, “Trainees would have scraps of paper where they were writing down the things they’d done in preparation for their appraisals, and now, they’re just recording it on the website.”
“I don’t think you could do CMT anymore without using ‘the Core’.”
Other specialties within the Wales Deanery hope to meet their own trainees’ learning needs by adopting similar systems, whilst Holly has been recognised professionally for her achievements as the organisation’s ‘BEST Overall Trainee for 2017’.
Further afield, both she and Melanie have received nominations for the Royal College of Physicians’ Excellence in Patient Care Awards 2018, with the College now even considering how to implement the system throughout the rest of the UK.
Alongside the Royal College, the initiative has been supported by Dr Tom Lawson, one of the Wales Deanery’s Interim Deputy Deans, with the website’s upgrade being overseen by the organisation’s Business Systems Support Unit.
For Dr Lawson, ‘the Core’ project has demonstrated the strength of empowering trainees to influence the direction of their own learning:
“Holly and Melanie have shown exceptional leadership and personal commitment in developing the ‘Core’ website, engaging the enthusiasm and support of other trainees and trainers.
“The Deanery is determined to support ‘the Core’, and to ensure that it remains a sustainable trainee-led resource for the future.”
Whilst Holly is still surprised at the impact of what was initially just an idea between herself and Melanie, she encourages trainees to seek out ways to implement their suggestions for improving current educational systems:
“I’d recommend getting in touch with the Wales Deanery and asking for their support, because they want things to be better in Wales.
“They’re really encouraging of standards changing, and know who to put you in contact with.”
If you would like access to ‘the Core’, and are currently a Welsh trainee, please contact ‘the Core’ Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.