Profile of a PPD Clinical Tutor
Dr Michael Speight
Dr Michael Speight works three days a week as a General Practitioner (GP). He also works with offshore oil rig workers, is a diving medical referee, for both commercial divers and sports divers, and a GP appraiser - carrying out the annual appraisals on GPs - checking they're keeping up to date.
What's it like being a tutor?
"It stimulates me. You can't stand still, you can't just think "We do it this way because we've always done it", you've got to think back, you think "Well why do I do it this way? Is it still the right way to do it?" It might have been the gold standard you know ten years ago but what's happened now? And because the students at Teesside come from such a wide variety of backgrounds it's great because sometimes they know more than you about things, they push you in different directions, directions you've never thought of going before and that has a knock on benefit to your own work back at the surgery as well, because you're bringing in something new and it keeps you active and vibrant... And I think our patients in the Teesside area get more because of that."
What happens in a typical tutorial session?
"A typical tutorial session... we usually start by having a short lecture that gives people an overview about what we're going to talk about. Maybe put some things up to stimulate you a bit, something a bit controversial, something to get you thinking a bit... And then we tend to break up into small groups... and we've got such a mix of students here we've made particular effort in Teesside to get people from unusual backgrounds, people that have done other things first... the nice thing about the course here is we've got people who've done a whole variety of other careers before they've come into medicine and it does mean you have more stimulating discussion in the groups.
We want them to think a bit. Whether you've come straight out of school or you've done something else first, you know - What are you as a person? What sort of things do you like? What makes you tick? What is it that attracted you into medicine? - and help them to experiment in a safe environment. We all need to try things out - "Does that style work for me?" ...and rather than trying it face to face with a patient, try it out in the small groups first and you'll find some things just fall flat like a lead balloon, other things you know, you think "Oh gosh, I've not thought of approaching it that way, that suits my style".
We do videos so you can actually see yourself and everyone thinks "Oh my God, we're going to be videoed"... but it's interesting because you're often your own worst critic with that and you think "Do I really have those mannerisms? Do I fiddle with coins in my pocket when I'm talking?" and we can try so many different things... We try and do things that are going to put people a little bit outside their comfort zone, make you think a little bit more, make them challenge any preconceptions they've got... we don't want doctors all to be the same. Patients are all different and you know patients tend to choose doctors that fit their way of working so we want a good mix, we want a good spread and we want people that think a bit more about what they're doing, that are not just going to read it straight out of the text book because it's changed a huge amount since I've qualified and it's going to change a huge amount when the current crop of students finish with that, they're going to see tremendous changes and what we want to do is give them a framework... before I did medicine I did a science degree and we were taught "These are the key experiments, this is how it's changed our thinking over the years" so when a new experiment comes along and it throws out the old way you're not left in isolation, you've got a framework and it's another bit of information you can hang on the tree. But your framework's still intact and that's a better way of doing it and I think we need to teach them to think about what they're doing, because I think that's a framework for future learning."
What do you think the students actually gain from the small group tutorials?
"It's fun... that's the first thing... You get challenged in it. It's all done in a non-judgemental way, you can disagree vehemently with people in the group and then go out and you're all pals with that, and who you agree with will change from session to session depending on what we've covered and that's the nice thing with that. You learn to work cohesively with other people, you learn to work in a group where you've got to respect the different skill sets that you all have. You've learned that you know, you've got particular skills, but others have skills in different directions. So we learn together with it and we find that by approaching a problem as a group of us we get far further than just trying to work in isolation. Rather than stuck in your room or stuck in a library or stuck on a computer screen, with that we can cover far more by working as a group, it can push us in directions we've never thought of going."