Patients needed to support doctors of the future at NNUH

For more than 10 years patients from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) have been helping medical students by taking part in structured patient teaching sessions and student clinical exams, and the Clinical Skills Resource Team are looking to recruit more patient volunteers.

As a large teaching hospital affiliated with the University of East Anglia, NNUH hosts around 800 medical students for clinical teaching each year, and the patient teaching sessions have proved invaluable to the students by giving them opportunities to learn from patients and shape their knowledge, skills and attitudes for their future careers.

Professor Lesley Bowker, Clinical Skills Director said: “The participation of our patients has been absolutely vital in supporting our students’ learning, and we are so very grateful for their time. Recruiting patient volunteers is an ongoing project and we would love to involve more patients who can spare some time to help our doctors of the future!”

Professor Bowker added: “To be involved, patients should have previous or ongoing care at NNUH but be currently reasonably well in themselves. Patients may then be asked to help either with student exams or teaching sessions.  We are looking for people who have long term, manageable conditions, particularly if they have stable clinical signs such as a heart murmur, joint problems, skin lumps or rashes. If patients are interested they should ask their doctor about medical student teaching at their next appointment, or they can contact the Clinical Skills Resource Team directly for more information.”

Teaching sessions are run by NNUH Consultants and enable groups of students to watch and practice their patient consultations in a special environment away from the intensity of the hospital wards and clinics. In a typical session, a small group of students will sit with the patient and ask them how their condition has affected their life, or they might learn how to examine them under the supervision of a senior doctor. This experience can bring the medical text books to life and is much more useful for the student than just reading about conditions.

Patient participation is voluntary and between one and six  patients are required for each session; on occasion patients are invited to attend more than one session per year. Teaching sessions are delivered in the Clinical Skills Resource Area, 1st Floor, Bob Champion Research and Education Building and can last from between 90 minutes and three hours. Light refreshments, free parking and a contribution towards travel expenses is available.

Peter Chapman, NNUH Director of Medicine said: “Teaching in real life environments like these is of significant value for our medical students. It allows our trainees to build on experience, and as a massive teaching hospital, I do hope many more patients come forward to assist our doctors of the future- we would be so grateful.”

Anne Gotts has been taking part in the patient teaching sessions since September 2016, where she has spared a few hours each time to assist medical students at NNUH. Anne, who is from Mulbarton explains how she wanted to give something back to the NHS. “I had a kidney transplant 37 years ago after being born with polycystic kidneys, so I have a lot to be grateful for. Participating in the patient teaching sessions is a form of saying ‘thank you’ to all those who have helped me.”

Anne added: “I find the sessions really interesting and knowing that I am helping the doctors of the future is a very good feeling. Everyone that I have met so far has been so lovely and very keen to learn. I would definitely recommend participating in patient teaching sessions to those people who are already a patient at the hospital.”

If you are a patient at NNUH and would like to know more about student teaching please speak to your clinician or call Caroline Coombs, Medical School Administrator on 01603 286618 or email

Monday 11th of September 2017 10:17:19 AM