Irish medical schools phase campus openings

Clinical placements resume as medical schools phase campus reopenings

The country’s six medical schools plan reopening this month on a phased basis for hybrid and campus teaching programmes while clinical placements have got underway, Irish Medical Times reports.

In Dublin, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) University of Medicine and Health Sciences, has approved a measured return to reopening of its campus. All remaining RCSI staff and researchers returned to the College during August.

This month sees new RCSI students begin classes on campus while the main student body returns to campus next month.

The RCSI has signed up with other higher education institutes (HEIs) to work closely with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science to develop a protocol to facilitate the safe arrival of international students, many of whom will be returning to Ireland to continue their studies.

Clinical Year medical students at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) returned last week and a limited number of elective students were in place over the summer in TCD teaching hospitals.

“Trinity has developed a specific training package and assessment that all students must complete before setting foot in the hospitals and they also provide daily health notifications as required by the HSE,” said a statement issued to IMT.

Second Year medical students in TCD, are to start back on September 28 and the College was expecting First Years from October 5, the same start dates as other programmes in Trinity, as matters stood. However, those dates depended on the Leaving Certificate results and on prevailing Government guidelines.

University College Dublin (UCD) School of Medicine has agreed details of how teaching, learning and assessment would be conducted for the coming Autumn Trimester, in line with public health guidance.

The Autumn Trimester for continuing students starts on September 21.

A small number of programmes have different start dates, such as the Clinical and Health Professional programmes.

While acknowledging the challenges of Covid-19, UCD is seeking to ensure that students access and use their campuses to the greatest extent possible.

The School of Medicine has adopted general teaching and assessment principles for the Autumn Trimester. Essential practical teaching sessions, small group teaching, tutorials and problem-based learning sessions are to be prioritised for face-to-face delivery.

Where this is not possible, lectures are to be delivered remotely; synchronously using scheduled time slots.

Clinical placement planning and calendars have been amended to account for ongoing social distancing, and other restrictions, in primary care and in hospitals.

Module assessment is to be incorporated as an in-trimester or continuous assessment approach. However, there was a need to maintain some timed and invigilated examinations.

At University College Cork (UCC), students from second year onwards in the College of Medicine and Health are to commence their academic year over the next couple of weeks, ahead of first year students who begin on September 28.

“The College of Medicine and Health is implementing all public health recommendations and guidelines issued on the safe return to education and is supporting this with further initiatives. These include certified hygiene course for students, remote electronic health check-ins, and additional induction training,” UCC stated.

The University of Limerick (UL) School of Medicine runs a four-year graduate-entry medical degree programme. The School’s Third- and Fourth-Year students began their clinical training programmes a fortnight ago.

First and Second Year students are commencing their campus-based teaching programmes this week.

In the case of Third and Fourth Year students, the School stated it had worked closely with the Health Service Executive’s (HSE’s) Chief Clinical Officer, the National Lead for Healthcare Associated Infection and Anti-Microbial Resistance, other medical schools and partner clinical sites on guidance to ensure the safe return of students to their clinical placements.

With respect to First- and Second-Year students, the medical school was adopting the wider UL policies on the safe return of students to teaching.
New entrant and returning students in preclinical years at National University of Ireland Galway Medical School return in four weeks’ time starting back the week beginning September 21, and the following week, depending on their year.

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