Oxford and Palestine: a long history of educational exchange

The OxPal Medlink builds upon a long history of collaboration and partnership between clinicians based in Oxford and the students and staff of Al Quds Medical School.

For over a decade, a team of senior clinicians based in Oxford had been making annual visits for one week at a time to Al Quds Medical School, primarily to assist with external validation of final examinations and to provide intensive bedside teaching in history and examination skills. In March 2011, a small contingent of current Oxford medical students were invited to join this annual visit. Based upon their observations of the various difficulties encountered by students to access clinical learning environments, the team looked for ways of  supporting medical education in this unique geopolitical context that would sustain educational exchange between the short annual visits.

OxPal Medlink and MedicineAfrica: a natural collaboration

Using existing distance-learning technology developed and pioneered by MedicineAfrica for use with partners in several Africa countries, the first eight pilot tutorials with a small group of twelve fourth-year Palestinian medical students were held between March and June 2012. A cumulative total of over 140 hours of student contact time were delivered during this period by four clinical tutors.

During our second term (September – December 2012), the program expanded to include over fifty Palestinian medical students and twelve Oxford-based clinical tutors. A total of 42 tutorials and approximately 350 hours of student contact time were delivered. Throughout, we have gathered feedback from participants in the program, and adapted our model to their requirements (see here for a summary).

The road ahead: sustainable growth, Continuing Medical Education (CME) and meeting the needs of our partners

From that initial nucleus of activity, the OxPal Medlink has grown exponentially and now engages over 200 students at all four medical schools in Palestine (Al Quds Medical School and An-Najah University in the West Bank and the Islamic University of Gaza and Al-Azhar University in Gaza) in a variety of specialties including internal medicine, general surgery, paediatrics, psychiatry and ophthalmology. As well as this, we are also delivering postgraduate seminars in psychiatry and have branched out into frontier subjects such as ‘teach the trainer’ workshops. Our roadmap for the weeks and months ahead is very exciting.

Using the online MedicineAfrica platform, our contacts in Palestine and small, self-contained on-the-ground seminars and workshops, we hope to deliver several discrete educational interventions that capitalise on the sustainable nature of synchronous, web-based distance learning. We aim to work with both undergraduate medical students and newly-qualified interns/residents to deliver continuing medical education (CME).

The core educational modules we hope to provide include

  • C01: Introduction to core medical and surgical presentations
  • C02: Medical and surgical presentations: an advanced course
  • Sp01: Specialty cases: Paediatrics
  • Sp02: Specialty cases: Obstetrics and gynaecology
  • Sp03: Specialty cases: Psychiatry
  • Sp04: Specialty cases: Trauma & orthopaedics/Plastic surgery
  • EBM01: Introduction to evidence based medicine – key papers and key approaches
  • QI01: Quality improvement in the clinical environment: key skills for junior clinicians
  • RM01: Introduction to research methods
  • T01: Teaching in the clinical environment: key ideas and approaches