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New types of medical curricula required – former Deputy CMO

By David Lynch - 18th Feb 2024

medical curricul
Pictured L-to-R: Prof Brian Kinirons, Medical Director, NDTP, HSE; Prof Mark White, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, RCSI; Ms Lana Kane, Director, Medforce; Prof Tom O’Dowd, Public Health and Primary Care, Trinity College Dublin; and Dr Ronan Glynn, Partner and Health Sector Lead, EY Ireland Photo Credit: Maura Hickey, Business Post

Technological universities could play a greater role in the provision of medical education and training, according to the former Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health.

Dr Ronan Glynn, who is now Partner and Health Sector Lead at EY Ireland, spoke at the 20th National Health Summit in Croke Park, Dublin, on Ireland’s medical workforce challenge.

During his presentation, Dr Glynn said Ireland needed “two entirely new types of curricula”.

One is required to address the “need to train more generalists”, especially to work in rural areas. The other is to train qualified medical professionals to ensure they are “comfortable” with digital technologies and data analytics.

“The reality is the vast majority of people who work in our [medical] workforce today have self-taught themselves how to use digital technologies.”

Asked by the Medical Independent (MI) who should lead these new training initiatives, Dr Glynn said “it’s a conversation that needs to be had between higher education and health authorities”.

“I think we all need to come together, including industry, and maybe some non-traditional educational institutions from a medical school perspective.”

He indicated the potential future role of technological universities in healthcare delivery should be examined.

Dr Glynn added there is a “need to look at our curriculum to ensure that it is focused on producing graduates that are comfortable with innovation and technology and comfortable with data analytics”.

Prof Tom O’Dowd, GP and Professor of Public Health and Primary Care, Trinity College Dublin, addressed the Summit on workforce difficulties.

Prof O’Dowd told MI there are significant GP workforce deficits, particularly in rural areas, but also in urban deprived areas, “which does not get mentioned as often.”

“But it’s not all about GPs,” he added. “I think we’ve to really double the number of general practice nurses and we need to have far more advanced nurse practitioners. We have to build the staff around GPs. It will still be GP-led, but I think a lot of the work we do can be done by others.”

However, Prof O’Dowd said there were grounds for optimism with increased numbers of GP trainees.

He also pointed to the recent establishment of the non-EU rural GP programme and the impact of the ICGP’s Shaping the Future of General Practice document.

“I think general practice has owned its own problems,” he said. “As GPs we have injected ideas into the system.”

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