Our Undergraduate Medical Education Team support medical students and their placements in mental health.

If you need any information or support, please contact our Medical Education Team via Medical.Education@merseycare.nhs.uk if you’re post graduate and Undergrad.education@merseycare.nhs.uk for students.

The team have shared some good news articles below.

Dr Andrew Kiridoshi, Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist and Undergraduate Tutor and Dr Jane Leadbetter, ST5 Higher Trainee Doctor in Old Age Psychiatry and Trainee Associate Undergraduate Tutor, both work with our Undergraduate Medical Education Team, supporting medical students and their placements in mental health.

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Pictured: Dr Andrew Kiridoshi, Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist and Undergraduate Tutor

They had the opportunity for a fascinating interview with Dr Dominic Johnson, Vice Dean of the University of Liverpool Medical School. Dr Johnson is relatively new to the role, having started nine months ago. Dr Johnson talked about his background, how he’s found the challenge of the role and where he sees undergraduate medical education progressing in the future.

AK: Could you tell us how you came to take up the post of Vice Dean of University of Liverpool School of Medicine and a bit about your background?

DJ: I initially completed a Degree in Dentistry at Newcastle University and worked as a dentist for three years and obtained a Fellowship in Dental Surgery from the Royal College of Surgeons. I found dentistry to be technical and practical, but it lacked the problem solving element I craved and that we see in medicine, particularly in psychiatry. Because of this, I returned to Newcastle University and completed a medical degree. Due to my dental background, I was able to join the course in year three. I often joke with students that I missed all the teaching on lower limb anatomy, but this has not hindered me in my career!

My interest in psychiatry started from a young age. I grew up in Rainhill near the old asylum which was, at one point in the early 1900s reportedly the largest in Europe, and I was quite fascinated by this. During medical training I completed a student selected module like what would now be considered a SAMP, in forensic psychiatry, and it was from this that I realised this was the career path for me. I found psychiatrists to be well read, interesting and viewed things from a different perspective. 

I went on to complete core psychiatry training in the North East and then higher training in forensic psychiatry in London, during which I worked in the Maudsley Hospital. The intensity of the psychopathology seen in London and the higher threshold to admit patients was certainly a valuable experience. I also completed a Medical Education PhD over six years and looked at how medical students who failed their final exams coped and progressed afterwards. I increasingly appreciated the value of qualitative research and social constructivism. I then took up a consultant post in Newcastle.

JL: So your PhD started you along the path of medical education. What roles in education did you take up after taking up a consultant post?

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Pictured: Dr Jane Leadbetter, ST5 Higher Trainee Doctor in Old Age Psychiatry and Trainee Associate Undergraduate Tutor

DJ: An opportunity came up through the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University for me to move to Malaysia with my wife, who is also a medic, and set up a new medical school. I became the Clinical Dean of the medical school in Malaysia and was there for a three year term. There were already various private international and state run medical schools established in Malaysia and, as Newcastle University had a highly regarded reputation, particularly at that time, the aim was for a new leading institution to be set up there. At the beginning there were 20 students per year in 2011 and the medical school has now expanded to have an intake of 120 students per year. I was responsible for the running of not only psychiatry but also of the other specialties as the team back then was very small. I was even teaching neurological examinations!

My interest and passion for medical education really developed here. I spent some time learning how medicine, particularly psychiatry, is delivered in Newcastle University so I could incorporate this into the curriculum in Malaysia. Learning to establish and deliver a new medical curriculum, and doing so in another country, was an interesting and challenging experience.

Psychiatry is very different in Malaysia compared to the United Kingdom. The content of delusional ideation, for example, often centres more around spirits and animal mysticism. There is unfortunately much more stigma associated with psychiatric morbidity and people with illnesses, such as florid psychosis, may be managed by their family or community who will often not reach out for external help.

My time in Malaysia certainly helped me to appreciate the various safeguards that we have in place in the UK, such as Mental Health Review Tribunals or Care Quality Commission reviews. Although preparing reports for these may seem stressful and time consuming, when such safeguards are not in place, I can vouch for the situation being far worse.

AK: Following the end of your three year term in Malaysia how did you career progress?

DJ: After three years in Malaysia, I returned to the UK and took up a half clinical, half Sub Dean role for Newcastle medical school and stayed in this for five years. During this time, I have acted as an expert witness and have been an investigator and on the Fitness to Practice panel for medical students and these became my areas of expertise. I think having a background in psychiatry is helpful when dealing with Fitness to Practice cases.

I then found my current role being advertised by the University of Liverpool and was interested by the broader remit of the post compared to my role in Newcastle. I took up the role of Vice Dean of the University of Liverpool nine months ago and so far, I have found this role challenging and am enjoying continuing to learn as an educator.

I think it is refreshing to see psychiatry represented at this level within the University and I believe that there has yet to have been a medical school dean who is a psychiatrist.

JL: How do you see medical education at the University of Liverpool progressing in the future?

DJ: I have found the investment and resources available very impressive. I have also noticed a different culture compared to in Newcastle and one aspect I am a big advocate of is ensuring student representation in all meetings. I will be focussing on ensuring a lot of support, dialogue and communications with the student body to make sure there is a good connection between the Faculty and the students.

I think there is scope for increasing psychiatry experience for medical students as, at present, there is five weeks during the entire course and, for example, at Newcastle there is nine weeks. This does require quite a lengthy process of approval, however, and of course needs to be logistically feasible with Mersey Care.

More generally there are conversations being had about increasing medical student numbers nationally and there is no clear indication provided by Government on the numbers yet. There could potentially be an additional 7,000 medical students being recruited and, if that were to happen, we could expect undergraduate medical education to look very different in the future. Government has also been keen to explore apprenticeship as a method to train doctors.

We have also seen a change in culture and learning style of the current student generation and this needs to be taken in to account when delivering teaching. The rise of Artificial Intelligence and the impact this has on education is something I am interested in and the work of Prof Sugata Mitra, who is an advocate for ‘minimally invasive education’ and an educationalist and cognitive scientist is a fascinating area.

It was fantastic to speak to Dr Johnson about his broad career path and how it led him to this role. He’s an approachable person, and it’s been great for Mersey Care’s undergraduate team to develop these links within the University.