In the Spotlight: The Inequalities and Rural Health Module, Clinical Epidemiology Intercalated BSc
As the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, in the year that Dr Julian Tudor Hart died, health inequalities continue to widen in both developed and developing countries.
Julian Tudor Hart was a GP who worked in the South Wales Valleys and highlighted the Inverse Care Law “the availability of good medical care tends to vary inversely with the need for it in the population served”. Sir Michael Marmot’s report highlights that life expectancy and healthy-life expectancy is around 10 years lower in those who live in the most deprived areas of the UK.
Many groundbreaking initiatives, aimed at narrowing this disparity, are occurring in the NHS. The Inequalities and Rural Health module is an example of how Cardiff University School of Medicine is addressing this issue.
Why was the module developed?
There is increasing evidence of how health services can contribute to improve health outcomes. Although the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Physicians have published reports about the role of doctors in reducing inequalities, there is no clear advice on the undergraduate medical student curriculum. Compounding the problem of poor access to services is the fact that there are major recruitment and retention problems in deprived and rural areas of Wales, making this a Welsh Government priority.
The module is a collaboration between the School of Medicine and Cwm Taf University Health Board, to encourage medical students to compare and contrast their experience of the complexities of delivering healthcare in diverse areas such as Cwm Taf, Powys and inner-city Cardiff, in the hope that they would be more aware of the social context of health and inspired to work in these types of areas.
There is evidence from medical schools in other countries, particularly Australia, Canada and the USA, that rural exposure such as provided on this module, increases recruitment into deprived and rural area careers. Providing opportunities for students to have some experience in these areas is a key element for the creation of a cohort who can develop into tomorrow’s leaders in this field.
This is a shortened version of the full article that features in edition 30 of ReMEDy.