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Distance Learning team shortlisted for prestigious Royal College of Physicians award

28 May 2019

ION’s Distance Learning Clinical Neurology team were short listed in the Medical education and training category of the RCP Excellence in Patient Care Awards. The judges commented that the course showed “Excellent reach, innovative way of ensuring international participation”.

Distance learning team

The UK has a lower than recommended number of neurologists, and some non-neurologists are scared by the apparent complexity of the subject. However, neurological disorders are common, making up about 10% of GP consultations and emergency medical admissions. In Developing Nations neurologists are far scarcer. Thus, programmes which improve clinical neurology education for non-neurologists and neurologists alike, have great potential for a positive impact.

The Distance Learning Clinical Neurology MSc course, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, was the first such programme in the world. It was set up some eight years ago, initially with a Diploma route, with the additional MSc and PG Certificate options from 2016 onwards. All of the course ‘students’ are actually practicing medical doctors based worldwide. Student numbers have expanded, so that in 2018 there were over 100 students registered on the course. They come from a variety of backgrounds, including general medicine, surgery, psychiatry, GPs and neurology.

The course uses over 400 e-lectures covering a wide range of topics in neurology, utilising multimedia in a modular structure. The curriculum was designed by leading neurologists in the UK and Europe. Interaction with course tutors is available by Skype for support and assessment, as well as with monthly ‘real case’ assessed challenges. Student interaction with Journal clubs and forums is encouraged, with worldwide teaching assistants and student forums and knowledge cafes based around time-zones. The course offers a flexible approach, allowing busy doctors to adjust their pace on the course, as well as giving the flexibility that  online learning provides.

Students have the opportunity to meet and liaise with the administrators at the start of their learning experience through online Skype induction events. All UK based students, come to Queen Square for their MCQ assessments, the administration team run these examinations. The administrators also organise and manage all overseas-based students’ examinations, liaising with international exam centres across the global. The administration team work alongside the tutors, providing a supportive environment for the students to learn and development their skills and knowledge. This is very much a team of clinicians and administrators working and developing the course together.

“I am so pleased to see the effort and motivation of the programme team being recognised externally in this way. This programme is innovative in the on-line delivery of specialist neurology training to busy clinicians globally and indeed in the UK. Graduates from this programme are enhancing the experience of patients with neurological health issues around the world. The success of the programme is due to the expertise, knowledge, care and diligence of the programme team who prioritise the education and experience of all their students.” Dr Julie Evans, Faculty Tutor, UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences

Further exciting developments are planned this year on the course to further enhance the student experience.

Our team consisted of:

  • Professor Alex Leff, Professor Cognitive Neurology
  • Dr. Amit Batla, Consultant Neurologist and Course Director/tutor
  • Dr. Tim Young, Consultant Neurologist and Course tutor
  • Miss Anna Foakes, Senior Teaching & Learning Administrator
  • Ms Sophie MacLeod, Senior Teaching & Learning Administrator
  • Mr. David Blundred,  Education Manager, Education team

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(left to right: Dr Tim Young, Miss Anna Foakes, Dr Amit Batla, Ms Sophie MacLeod)