Actors from Wrexham Glyndwr University’s Theatre, Television and Performance degree have once again lent their skills to a GP specialty training programme –with a new online twist.
Each year since 2007, students from the university’s degree have taken part in a full day of simulated GP consultations, having been briefed on the roles they will be playing by Wrexham GP Specialty Training Programme directors
Dr Ian Happs and Dr Stephen Wadsworth. Their performances as patients are used to assess postgraduate trainees’ consultation manner -with their peers, tutors and Royal College Of GP (RCGP) examiners all offering feedback.
However, this year, the coronavirus pandemic meant that the usual face-to-face sessions – which have been held both at Glyndwr’s Terry Hands Studio and at Wrexham Medical Institute – were not able to go ahead.
Instead Dr Happs, Dr Wadsworth, and Glyndwr’s Theatre, Television and Performance course leader Elen Mai Nefydd worked to adapt the sessions for online delivery. The new sessions reflect challenges brought about by Covid-19 for GPs as they work remotely.
Dr Happs said: “This year, it became clear that we would not be able to hold a face to face event in the Autumn, so in June we began to think of alternative ways to deliver the education to both groups.
“Our longstanding and excellent working relationship with Elen Mai Nefydd put us in the perfect position to do that.
“During the pandemic, GPs have had to adapt quickly to consulting remotely, either by telephone or by using one of several available video systems.
“The RCGP have adapted their final examination, the Consultations Skills Assessment (CSA) into an audio or video format, the Recorded Consultation Assessment (RCA). Since April, the GP trainees’ weekly educational sessions have all been delivered remotely by video conference, using Microsoft Teams.
Dr Happs and Dr Wadsworth worked alongside the team at Glyndwr to refine the workshops during the summer and autumn.
By the time the event ran in November, almost forty people were involved in the session – including 23 GP trainees and nine theatre students.
The groups were split into three virtual rooms for three sets of two-hour sessions and 36 simulated consultations.
Dr Happs added: “Both groups of learners adapted amazingly well to the virtual environment.
“The aims of the workshop have always been to help the GP trainees to develop their communication and consultation skills and to provide the theatre students with experience as simulators for a client organisation.
“Communicating the many subtleties within complex medical scenarios through the medium of a video link was a real challenge for both doctors and simulators, yet they achieved some excellent results.
“The feedback from all concerned at the end of the day was very good – and we look forward to many more years of this highly valued collaboration.”
Elen Mai Nefydd, Wrexham Glyndwr University Programme Leader for Theatre, Television and Performance, said: “There have been a range of adaptations to our campuses at Glyndwr to make them covid-secure, and we have been carrying out safe in-person teaching sessions since students returned earlier this Autumn.
“These have been combined with digital delivery too, as part of the learning blend we’ve been offering through Glyndwr’s Active Learning Framework.
“However, it was always clear that some of the annual opportunities our students are offered might look very different this year – such as our work with the GP speciality training programme.
“For two disciplines which often rely on face-to-face interaction, this meant a lot of hard thinking to make the sessions work.
“However, taking the sessions online meant drawing on new skills – both for our students and the postgraduate trainees they were working with. It also reflected new ways of working which both sides can build into their practice.
“I’m delighted our re-imagined event went so well, and I would like to thank Ian and Stephen for their work on this year’s sessions – as well as their support over the years.”
To find out more about Wrexham Glyndwr University’s BA (Hons) Theatre, Television and Performance degree, visit: https://www.glyndwr.ac.uk/en/Undergraduatecourses/TheatreTelevisionandPerformance/