Population Health clinical placement at the University of Manchester

This was the best placement in all my years as a medical student. I was allowed to be involved in many aspects of patient care. Staff and supervisors were incredibly approachable and helpful. I got many opportunities to do different skills and assess patients holistically.
Medical student

Details of the placement

Outcomes for graduates introduced intended learning outcomes encompassing concepts of population health. In 2019, the University of Manchester (UoM) introduced a new four-week standard clinical placement for final year medical students to meet these learning objectives, plus holistic care and multi-disciplinary team working. At the UoM, students are placed over a wide geographical area. To reach all students without a requirement to travel, an approach was used to encapsulate the teaching and learning experience for UoM students in the form of online learning and two live webinars.

Good practice and innovative elements

  • Clinical placement supervisors had bespoke training for the placement and facilitated reflection in students. Students were assessed based on three short written reflective pieces demonstrating their understanding of population health, marked by their supervisor.
  • Experiential learning was complemented by the development of new online learning material in the form of videos, questions, and resources for students. The two topics delivered asynchronously were Inclusion Health and Healthy Lifestyles. For the Healthy Lifestyles module, evidence-base was drawn on to create a five-minute vlog, including aspects of Lifestyle Medicine. Students are also prompted to consider their own wellbeing and ways in which to maintain this.
  • Two webinars focusing on Population Health were delivered to consolidate and expand on learning from the online materials.
The session was interactive and helped further my understanding towards Public/Population Health.
Medical student
  • Students explored two cases of individuals from different populations within Greater Manchester. The webinars were hosted by clinicians with experience in population health. Real historical and demographic data were used to develop the case studies. This introduced students to historical events that have influenced health inequalities across Greater Manchester in the present day, such as the decline of the Lancashire cotton industry.
  • Students were asked to compare population health factors throughout the case studies that influenced the differential health outcomes. This format allowed the facilitators to prompt the learners to pick out potential intervention points in the story and reflect on whether there are related aspects in their placement.
  • The concept and purpose of reflection were reinforced as students were also asked to supply cases, and these were discussed during the second session. This approach facilitated drawing out the learner’s ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesise information within the placement and the webinars.
Supervisors ensured that the placement was broad and allowed me to appreciate the healthcare delivered to this population.
Medical student

Positive outcomes

  • The blended learning approach has allowed students to consolidate knowledge from their clinical experience whilst allowing critical thinking on population health, translating the Outcomes for graduates requirement into the UoM curriculum. Overall student satisfaction for the clinical placement was high.
  • By using webinars and asynchronous online learning, a large number of students have been reached across a large geographical area whilst remaining at their clinical attachments.
  • The format of the webinar life story used allows flexibility. It is currently being adapted to address issues seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as access to vaccination, differences in mortality and morbidity related to socio-economic factors.
  • From 2021, the refined Population Health Placement forms part of a new Careers Placement placement which, in addition to population health, also considers careers planning as part of preparation for practice. Developed from ideas based on evaluation and adapting to a new approach of teaching and learning, 431 final year UoM medical students completed the placement in hospital and community settings in the 2020/21 academic year, with a further 489 in 2021/22, and 481 in 2022/23.