Medical graduates diagnose a healthy future for Tees Valley
(25 July 2006)
The first intake of Durham University’s medical students are celebrating their graduation.
After beginning their course five years ago at Durham University’s Queen’s Campus, Stockton, the graduates from Tees Valley are now looking forward to starting their careers in the region’s hospitals. 102 students start the medicine degree in Stockton each year, then after two years they join students at the University of Newcastle for the second phase of the programme. One of the students who graduated last week, Jacqueline McKenzie, 23, from Redcar said: “I chose this degree because I wanted to stay in the region. I grew up here and have close family and personal ties.” Jacqueline who is about to start General Medicine at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, added: “After being educated and brought up here I wanted to give something back to the region.” 23-year-old Katie Senior from Ingleby Barwick, who is joining Jacqueline at James Cook Hospital, said: “I wanted to stay in the region because I know the culture of this community. I can relate better to the patients and understand their needs. It’s a good idea to have doctors in the region that are from the region. “ The medicine degree at Durham University is delivered in partnership with the University of Newcastle together with NHS Hospitals, general practices and public health units. Working with health centres in the community, the course helps students respect and relate well to patients and colleagues from a wide range of backgrounds. Another graduate, Michael Griksaitis, 23, from Norton added: “The course is different because of the way it is integrated with the community and the opportunities to work in a community setting. In my first year, I got to work in Home House Prison in Stockton.” Michael, who is about to start work at Darlington Memorial Hospital, added: “Being from Norton I knew the health problems this area has and wanted to make a difference to the area that I grew up in and I’m now looking forward to doing that.” Durham University’s Dean of Medicine Professor Pali Hungin praised Professor John Hamilton who designed this pioneering course six years ago to respond to the health and social needs of the communities in Tees Valley which had been disadvantaged by the loss of major industries like mining and steel production. Professor Hungin said: “I am very proud that so many of the graduates are now staying here in the region to practice medicine. This shows the benefit of embedding the curriculum in the reality of a local community. “For decades Tees Valley has had poorer health than most parts of the UK, especially with heart disease and cancer. The region needs to attract high quality medical staff, particularly as medical facilities have developed enormously over the years.” Professor John Hamilton, who has now retired as Academic Director of the Medicine Programme added: “The benefit of having medical education here in Stockton, is that a large number of those who start their training here will stay on in the region. I’m particularly proud that Durham University is able to provide doctors for the future of Tees Valley.” Professor John McLachlan, the current Academic Director of the Medicine Programme said: “Clinical practice is involved throughout this course. Students get a broad view of how medicine fits into society by getting direct experience, learning in the real world. They see their patients’ problems within the context of their lives. “The working relationship we have with the University of Newcastle and our close partnership with the NHS form a great part of the course’s success. This has been backed up by the General Medical Council who praised us in a recent report for finding ‘a common purpose’ with our partners. “We are keen to build further on this partnership to ensure the course continues to grow from strength to strength creating more doctors of the future from and for the people of Tees Valley.”