Audit of dermatological content of U.K. undergraduate curricula

E Davies, S Burge
British Journal of Dermatology 2009, 160 (5): 999-1005

BACKGROUND: Recommendations for the dermatology content (learning outcomes) of the core undergraduate curriculum were sent to all U.K. medical schools in June 2006.

OBJECTIVE: To carry out an audit of the content of the core curriculum in each U.K. medical school against the recommendations for a core undergraduate dermatology curriculum (the criteria) published by the British Association of Dermatologists, to identify areas of good practice and to gather evidence for developing the learning and teaching of dermatology.

METHODS: A questionnaire was circulated to the dermatology teaching leads of all U.K. medical schools (29) and one Irish medical school. Questions which the teaching leads were unable to answer were sent to the relevant deans and responses incorporated into the results. All curricula should include the essential learning outcomes that focus on clinical skills; as this was an audit to benchmark current practice, we did not set standards for the other recommendations for a core curriculum.

RESULTS: Replies were received from teaching leads in 29 of the 30 medical schools and from 16 of the deans. Essential clinical skills such as taking a dermatological history and examining the skin were included in the curricula of most, but not all, medical schools. Areas of good practice include teaching on tumours, acne and psoriasis, but we found some surprising omissions including the diagnosis of meningococcaemia. Our data suggest that some students have little exposure to dermatology, but dermatology teaching takes place in secondary care in all medical schools. Knowledge-based assessments are used by 27 medical schools.

CONCLUSIONS: Curricula should be strengthened so that the recommended learning outcomes feature in the core curricula of all medical schools. Teaching leads in all specialties, including those in the community, should communicate so that learning and teaching are integrated horizontally and vertically. The results should provide a baseline for future audits.

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