Cardiff students win UK prize for second year running

Three students from Cardiff University School of Medicine have won the annual UK-wide student professionalism competition run by the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Medical Schools Council (MSC).

It is the second year running that Cardiff students have won the competition, which aims to help medical students develop their professional skills. The winning trio were Pia Zaldua, Hannah Mudd and Jessica Randall. 

Entrants had to develop a teaching resource, no longer than 30 minutes, that medical students could access in their own time. Pia, Hannah and Jessica created an e-learning module around ‘communicating with patients and those close to them’ based upon the GMC and MSC’s Achieving good medical practice, which is guidance that outlines the standards expected of a medical student.

Their winning entry used video, photos, text, a quiz and voice-over narration to improve accessibility.

From using the winning e-learning module, medical students should understand that:

  • Effective communication is a vital skill to learn in medical school and students should make the most of any opportunities to observe or practice their communication with patients.
  • It is important to recognise barriers to good communication and understand ways in which they can be overcome. This is especially relevant as medicine becomes more integrated with technology and remote consultations, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Students should appreciate the importance of patient confidentiality and trust within communication and recognise when breaking confidentiality is or is not appropriate.

The challenges for doctors communicating safely during the pandemic had to be addressed as part of the entry. One of the winning students has worked for a patient experience team in a hospital during COVID-19, and so has first-hand experience of the challenge of communicating while wearing Personal Protective Equipment, which they included in their entry.

"This winning e-learning resource is an effective learning tool for UK medical students, providing information on communicating effectively with patients."

Professor Colin Melville

GMC Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards

Judges said the winning entry was ‘well thought out’ and ‘cleverly structured’. They said they were particularly impressed by the effort that had gone into making the learning as effective as possible.

Professor Colin Melville, the GMC’s Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards, who was part of the judging panel, said:

‘Effective communication training during formative years is vital to improve the skills of future practitioners.

‘It is crucial that students learn, observe and practice communicating in different situations to enhance their abilities to form strong doctor-patient relationships. This winning e-learning resource is an effective learning tool for UK medical students, providing information on communicating effectively with patients.’

Fellow panellist Clare Owen, Assistant Director of the MSC, said:

‘It’s really very encouraging to see, even in a difficult year like 2020, this competition continues to rise in entries with 76 this year, the highest number yet.

‘This entry stood out because of its innovative ways of creating online learning around doctors’ communication to patients and those close to them. The students were comprehensive in how they drew from the GMC and MSC’s Achieving good medical practice guidance on communication. They showed how important good communication is during the difficult circumstances of a pandemic or not.’

The winning entry was presented as a workshop to delegates at the GMC’s annual conference, held virtually in early December. The winners also won £300 in vouchers between them.