A Medical Device Daily

The UK is undertaking a significant change in postgraduate medical training, with the publication earlier this month of a new Foundation Program Curriculum for trainee doctors as part of the Modernizing Medical Careers (MMC) program.

The new curriculum calls for so-called “junior doctors” to have to demonstrate that, in addition to the more traditional elements of medical training, they are competent in a number of areas such as communication and consultation skills, patient safety and teamworking.

The curriculum provides a framework for a structured two-year program that will give trainee doctors exposure to a range of career placements across a broad spectrum of specialties, including accident and emergency, obstetrics and gynecology, and anesthetics.

The intent of the program is to give each trainee an opportunity to have experience in primary care and additional opportunities for experience in smaller specialties and academic medicine, not normally available at this stage of medical training.

The new MMC Foundation Program curriculum is due to take its first influx of trainees in August.

Health Minister John Hutton said, “We are moving to a situation where 80% of patient care will be provided in primary care environments, so we want more trainees to spend time in places like GP [general practitioner] surgeries and walk-in centers as the shift toward treatment in primary care settings rather than hospitals becomes the norm.”

The program also outlines explicit standards of assessment and structured supervision for trainees, with an educational supervisor overseeing each trainee and each posting location including a dedicated clinical supervisor.

Such skills as communication, the undertaking and use of research, time management and use of evidence and data will be assessed through an agreed-upon method prior to completion of the program.

Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer for England, said “The Foundation Program curriculum marks a new era in UK medicine. For the first time, doctors will have the opportunity to explore a range of career options, while ensuring that their acute clinical and professional skills are secure and robust.”

Saying that “the aim of the Modernizing Medical Careers program is to ensure that patients are seen and treated by trained doctors rather than, as at present, by doctors in training,” Dr. E. M. Armstrong, chief medical officer of Scotland, added: “To achieve this our young medical graduates need to acquire the requisite skills and competences to achieve specialist accreditation over a shorter period than has been the case in the past.”

Sir Alan Craft, chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said the curriculum “heralds a new era in medical training and education in the UK. As healthcare changes, the Foundation Program curriculum will ensure that doctors going through the system are fit for the modern healthcare service.”

Dr. Kate Grisaffi, one of the junior doctors piloting the new program, said, “My experience of the Foundation Program has been very positive. It gave me the opportunity to experience a wide range of specialties. The best thing about being part of this pilot was developing the generic skills essential for all doctors – good acute-care skills, communication and teamworking skills.”

Until 2007, Foundation Year 1 (F1) trainees will continue to undertake a year in PRHO-approved training placements, including at least three months in both medicine and surgery. As part of the ongoing development of F1, increasing focus will be placed on assessing core competencies gained along the training pathway.

A number of assessment tools are being piloted with over 1,750 trainees across the UK in order to develop a robust, validated process for proving a trainee’s competence ahead of full General Medical Council (GMC) registration and progression into the second year of foundation (F2).

The foundation curriculum will ensure that trainees move seamlessly from F1 into F2 following assessment and subsequent GMC registration.

Hearing protection set for European debut

The SonoCustom hearing protection system from Sonomax Hearing Healthcare (Montreal) will be launched by the firm’s UK distributor, Hagemeyer, at the Safety and Health Expo in Birmingham, UK, May 17-19. It will be the first time the health and safety industry in the UK will see and have the chance to be fitted for the SonoCustom, the company said.

Sonomax describes the product as “the gatekeeper between sounds and eardrums . . . it can shut the gate on harmful sounds like workplace noise with unparalleled efficiency, and can also welcome sounds like music and voices with perfect fidelity.”

Brian Powell, general manager of Hagemeyer’s Environmental Health and Safety Division, said, “Hearing protection has traditionally been uncomfortable, ineffective and unmeasurable, and in the case of disposable plugs, the same size and shape for every worker regardless of the level of noise exposure. Sonomax offers a solution to all of these problems, while helping businesses to save money and reduce waste.”

The SonoCustom has acoustic filters that effectively eliminate ‘toxic noise’ dangers while still permitting the user to hear voice communications. Each system is custom-fitted to the wearer and adapted by a computer software process to a safe noise exposure level for the employee.

Sonomax said that recent research has estimated that 170,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions because of exposure to excessive noise in the workplace.