Medical students start Highland placements

A group of students from an innovative medical course is starting a six week placement in the Highlands. Thirteen students from the Scottish Graduate Entry Medicine (ScotGEM) Programme attended their placement induction at the Centre for Health Science in Inverness on Tuesday 13 August.

The students, who are in their second year of training to become doctors, will spend one day a week at medical practices in Inverness and Nairn, attend clinical skills sessions at the Centre for Health Science and make regular visits to Raigmore Hospital. They will be the first cohort to undertake the Highland placements and will develop their skills in areas including midwifery, obstetrics and paediatrics. Other students from the programme are undertaking placements in Fife and Dumfries and Galloway.  

Launched in 2018, ScotGEM is Scotland’s first ever postgraduate entry, undergraduate medical course for doctors. The four year programme, open to those with an arts or science degree, has a focus on producing new doctors for remote and rural locations to meet the contemporary and future needs of NHS Scotland. The course is being delivered through a partnership between the University of St Andrews and the University of Dundee, in collaboration with the University of the Highlands and Islands, NHS Highland, NHS Fife, NHS Tayside and NHS Dumfries and Galloway.

Cassandra Baiano, originally from New York and now living in Dundee, is one of the students undertaking the six week Highland placement. She said: “I’m so excited to start our placement in the Highlands and to work with patients and colleagues from other parts of Scotland. I’m really looking forward to experiencing the different ways in which care is delivered on the ground across the country as it will ultimately make us more innovative and versatile doctors.

“I originally chose ScotGEM for the opportunity for patient contact immediately upon starting the course and regularly throughout. The course is underpinned by the real-life application of everything we learn in the classroom, clinical setting and community, allowing us to strengthen our clinical knowledge and skills from day one.”

Students who progress into the third year of the ScotGEM course will have the opportunity to undertake 10 month placements in general practice across the Highland region. This will include areas such as Lochgilphead, Lochinver, Caithness and the Black Isle.

Professor Crichton Lang, Interim Principal and Vice-Chancellor at the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: “We are delighted to welcome the first cohort of students to our region. We will be supporting this initiative to bring more trainee doctors into our remote and rural communities in a number of ways. We are also very pleased to welcome the ScotGEM students into our large and diverse student community throughout the Highlands and Islands and also into our thriving health and social care research environment. We very much hope that through their positive experiences as students they will be encouraged to practice in our region when they qualify.”

Dr Claire Vincent, a consultant at Raigmore and Caithness General Hospitals, is the NHS Highland lead for ScotGEM. She explains the importance of community-based placements: “We are delighted to welcome this first student cohort of this innovative medical course. Delivering the education from the community and hospital in an integrated manner enables students to understand the needs of today’s Highland patients. We look forward to developing this further as the course progresses with more immersive rural placements embedded in the community.”