Why should medical students study Social Gerontology? Guest-blog by Professor Anthea Tinker

This blog was written by SSHM Professor of Social Gerontology Anthea Tinker.

All lecturers want their students to be passionate about the subjects they are studying. But it is rare for them to become advocates in the way that a group of medical students have at the Institute of Gerontology at King’s College London.

In 2014 – 15 four medical students from three different medical schools took a year out from their studies to undertake the one year Intercalated BSc in Gerontology at KCL. I was their personal tutor. We met regularly both individually and as a group. Not only were they enthusiastic about the whole degree but they felt that little attention was paid to the Social Sciences in medical training.

They also wanted to follow the tradition set by their predecessors in publishing an article. Defining the key subjects of Social Gerontology as Sociology, Psychology, Demography and Social Policy they researched the role and relevance of these subjects for doctors. They also looked at the guidelines and advice on the medical curriculum. This culminated in a presentation to the British Society of Gerontology annual conference in July 2015 in Newcastle and led to the refinement of the proposed article. This has now been published as ‘Why should medical students study Social Gerontology?’ by Anthea Tinker, Labib Hussain, Jack Lilly D’Cruz, William Yee Sing Tai and Sebastian Zaidman in Age and Ageing: http://ageing.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/01/23/ageing.afw003.abstract

It has already had interest from organisations such as the British Geriatrics Society.

Writing an article together needs a high degree of personal commitment in a busy student life (all the students went back to medical school after the course ended in June) and a sharing of expertise. One was able to give time to edit, another to help submit it on line and so on. Dealing with comments from referees was another shared learning experience. Sharing the whole process of an article from a gleam in the eye to dealing with queries now the article has been published is a good way of ‘problem based learning’ – one of the popular medical ways of learning.

To find out more about the iBSc in Gerontology at SSHM please contact Professor Anthea Tinker: anthea.tinker@kcl.ac.uk

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