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Education Subcommittee
Emyr BenbowIt’s been a period of consolidation for the Education and Training Sub-committee – consolidation being, you will already understand, or if you are still young and enthusiastic, will soon come to understand, committee-speak for immobility and inactivity. That isn’t quite accurate: I’ve been neither immobile nor inactive.
Following the excitement of succeeding Paola Domizio’s as Chair of the Sub-committee came the realisation I had no idea what I was taking on, so I’ve been busy, panicking and perspiring. It’s always like that, isn’t it? If we didn’t step blindly and optimistically into the unknown, we’d be paralysed by indecision, never getting anywhere for fear of getting it wrong. It’s a strategy to be used with care, this stepping blindly into the unknown – but if it’s all right for the financial sector, it’s fine for me.

We’ve done some thinking about the Elective Bursaries, and who should receive them, triggered by correspondence with a student who applied for funds, not understanding our narrow use of the word “elective”. Surely, she argued, since she chooses her Special Study Modules from a list, they are “elective”, so she should be considered for a grant. Surely, I argued, what you’ve described is already paid for by your local authority, so I won’t be considering you for a grant. But if you have students who elect to do things that will help them learn about pathology, and they require additional funding to do them, even if they’re not traditional electives, we’ll consider them. Encourage them to fill out their applications with lots of helpful information about what they intend to do, and what they expect to get out of their experience, and they’ll stand a good chance of being funded. We don’t look kindly on applications that tell us that the student is going abroad to a Department of Pathology (usually a Department of Forensic Pathology) and is then, umm, going to … just be there, hanging around. We need to know what the plan is. They have to get that Forensic Pathologist to sort out a detailed programme. We know they’ll probably spend their time standing in a plastic tent in a muddy field, or a well-dug back garden, but at least if the student knows what they want to achieve, they might just get somewhere.
Quote1..You can get funding to help organise educational meetings, Quote2
to promote pathology in undergraduate and postgraduate education,
to develop educational tools, and to support networks of
pathologists involved in pathology education...
After the first four applications to the Educational Grant scheme, it’s gone quiet... very quiet. That means that someone, perhaps you, is missing the chance to get funding to do some innovative pathological education. You can get funding to help organise educational meetings, to promote pathology in undergraduate and postgraduate education, to develop educational tools, and to support networks of pathologists involved in pathology education. Some of that may seem nebulous, but we’ve established criteria to help you understand what we want from you, and they’re going on the PathSoc website soon.

And the reason for my panic? We’ve agreed to run the next Summer School in Manchester from September 1st to 4th, 2009. This will be on teaching and assessment methods, and will help you to get engaged with, in particular, undergraduate education, though the principles will be generalisable. We know the best way to attract students and young doctors into a specialty is to provide role models, and to do that, you need to be visible. Pathologists are shy people, not used to thrusting themselves into the limelight, but in many of our medical schools, we are going to have to do just that. Grumbling in the background just doesn’t help: sign up to our course, and watch me perspire.

Emyr W Benbow
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