|Master of Surgery (ChM): eLearning for the advanced trainee|
|Friday, 17 June 2011|
In September, The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh will launch a new two-year, part-time online postgraduate programme, leading to the degree of Master of Surgery (ChM). We caught up with Programme Director, Professor O James Garden, to find out more about the new ChM in General Surgery
OJG: The two institutions have a strong track record of working together, having signed a memorandum of understanding in the College’s Quincentenary. They have already joined forces to deliver the award-winning MSc in Surgical Sciences/Edinburgh Surgical Sciences Qualification (ESSQ), which supports early surgical training. The latest announcement of the ChM ensures that the Edinburgh partnership will continue to serve as a leading force in surgery.
SN: How will the ChM in General Surgery benefit trainees?
OJG: In the UK, the ChM will support trainees as they prepare for the intercollegiate exit fellowship examination (FRCS) in General Surgery, while also allowing them to declare a subspecialty interest in the second year and to undertake a clinical audit or research project.
The intercollegiate exit fellowship examination serves to confirm that surgical trainees are, at the end of their training, safe to progress to independent consultant practice. However, the assessment process may not serve as a rigorous evaluation of the subspecialty interest that has been declared by the candidate. Furthermore, the requirement to reduce working hours in Europe has lessened the trainee’s exposure to less common specialist surgical conditions and there is a need to consolidate their applied knowledge which may be compromised by reduced exposure to assessment of the patient in both the elective and emergency setting. There is, therefore, a clear requirement for an educational programme to support surgeons towards the end of their surgical training.
SN: Why is the ChM being delivered as an online course?
OJG: There is a logical requirement for distance-learning surgical educational programmes as a means of effectively enhancing the learning experience of surgeons in training and to some extent replacing conventional educational methods. The combination of our programme team, teaching format and vocational content delivers a high-quality student experience.
SN: How will the ChM programme complement surgical training?
OJG: The ChM programme is intended to support the advanced surgical trainee (ST6-8) through the General Surgery curriculum which leads to the intercollegiate FRCS examination in Great Britain & Ireland, and to recognise their subspecialty interest. It would also be suitable for trainees from outside the UK who are coming to the end of their surgical training and proceeding into independent surgical practice.
This jointly awarded modular qualification enables trainees to gain educational credits from the University of Edinburgh that are validated by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.
SN: What will trainees study?
OJG: Given that the ChM is based on the current intercollegiate curriculum, it ensures that all emergency and elective aspects of the ‘generality’ of surgery are covered and prepares the trainee for the end-of-training assessment process.
In the first year, compulsory core modules cover the basic elements of the subspecialties of General Surgery. Led by a team of committed specialist surgeons and clinicians, each module is based around relevant surgical cases and includes discussion boards, reflective e-portfolios and video masterclasses. Much of the activity will reinforce learning in the workplace and should be familiar to the trainee. In the second year, academic modules (core and specialist) explore research teaching and professional development methodology, as well as developing analytical skills in scrutinising published evidence and exploring interactive and written clinical communication skills. Trainees on this course are expected to lead e-seminars and e-journal clubs and to produce an e-dissertation in the second year. There is a written examination in the second year, following completion of core modules.
SN: How many hours per week are ChM students expected to dedicate to the programme?
OJG: The ChM offers a structured route to an academic qualification while studying for the FRCS. Although the student will be required to study for 15 hours each week during the semester and negotiate the in-course assessment, much of the work is based around day-to-day clinical practice, i.e. interaction between study and their surgical post. Online activities will reinforce learning in the workplace and should be familiar to the trainee.
SN: Are there any travel requirements?
OJG: The course is delivered entirely online but there is an option to attend a viva preparation course in Edinburgh after the end-of-semester 1 exams in Year 2. An online version of this viva-prep course will also be made available via the GenSURG learning environment, so as not to disadvantage students unable to attend face-to-face sessions. Students are not required to attend the exam in Edinburgh; exam centres throughout the world will be used to reflect the considerable international interest in this programme.
SN: How will the ChM allow trainees to express their subspecialty interest?
OJG: In the second year, the core and specialist academic activities will be tailored to the individual trainee to focus on advanced subspecialty practice. This means the programme will remain as relevant to a surgeon in the remote or rural setting as it will be to the subspecialist based in a high-volume centre.
SN: Are ChM students required to have a clinical director to support them?
OJG: No, the ChM is an independent activity. In the second semester of Year 2, students have a dissertation supervisor to oversee their research critique.
SN: Will you be offering it for the other surgical specialties?
OJG: We anticipate that a ChM in Orthopaedics and Trauma and a ChM in Urology will follow in 2012/13. Once these programmes are launched, plans for the other specialties will be reviewed. It is intended that flexible modular programmes be available to suit specialist needs but it is not yet clear whether all surgical specialties would benefit from the same educational approach.
SN: How much will it cost?
OJG: Fees are set at £3,775 per year (total £7,550) and a bursary scheme to support trainees in the second year is in development. The Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh are offering joint bursaries to the value of £500 each to the five ASGBI associate members who performed best in the first year of the programme.
For further information
Applications for the ChM in General Surgery are open all year, with cohorts starting each year in September. For more information, and to apply for September 2011, visit http://www.chm.rcsed.ac.uk/