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‘Ongoing monitoring’ following critical TCD accreditation report

Trinity College Dublin’s (TCD) undergraduate medicine programme is subject to an “ongoing progress monitoring process” after a highly critical accreditation report by the Medical Council.

“Following Council approval of the accreditation report in early 2020, TCD is due to be re-accredited in 2022. An ongoing progress monitoring process is in place in the meantime,” a Medical Council spokesperson informed the Medical Independent (MI).

The inspection took place in October 2018 and the programme was accredited for two years, rather than the standard five. In one of its major findings, the Council’s accreditation report stated that “a number of third and fifth year students reported, both verbally and in writing that they experienced a high level of stress. The supports provided by Trinity College and the School of Medicine for students were not effective.”

Third year students stated that the School was “dismissive of stress, mental health issues, and wellbeing of the students”.

According to the accreditation findings, first reported upon in Trinity’s University Times in October, third year students stated a lack of support and organisation at clinical sites and the College.

“The students currently on rotation in Tallaght University Hospital felt that they were considered a burden on the teams to which they were allocated. Both in St James’s and Tallaght University Hospital, they said that they were not properly introduced into the clinical setting….They said that some, but not all of the clinical tutors, were invested in teaching and they commended the surgical teaching in particular.”

“The students described how, when feedback was given to the School of Medicine on a number of issues at a special meeting, they were told to take responsibility themselves for issues. Overall, the majority of the students interviewed felt they were not being heard.”

Fourth year students said their experience contrasted positively with that of third year, “which was much more stressful”.

First and second year students were much more positive about their experiences, while students in fifth year reported a “very mixed experience” throughout their rotations.

The Council team “regularly heard of a culture that was critical and unsupportive” when distress was expressed. “Some students appeared upset describing their experiences.”

Prof Michael Gill, Head of TCD School of Medicine, told MI via email: “We presented our implementation plan to the Medical Council in October and they were very pleased with the progress we were making in taking on board their recommendations. We further presented to the Trinity quality committee with a similar positive outcome.

Recommendations that require only the School’s input have been put in place and there are ongoing discussions with the College and the HSE/health partners on implementation of the recommendations that require input from these institutions.”

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