Third year students in the Clinical Skills Lab.

Exeter strengthens links with Ethiopian Medical School

The University of Exeter Medical School has led another successful trip to the University of Wollega Medical School in Ethiopia, strengthening the relationship between the two schools.

The group was led by Truro-based Dr Ian Fussell and Dr Rob Marshall, and included medical students Amy Hough, Ailise Smith, Jacob King, Oliver Sharp, and Timo Tolppa. The month-long visit followed a week’s trip by a group of foundation doctors from the South West.

On its 5th visit to Wollega Medical School, the group returned to enhance knowledge – by providing teaching for students and giving feedback to the school’s academic doctors. Bed-side teaching was used to help the students improve their communication, approach and interaction with patients in the local hospital.

Amy and Ailise created a series of workshops for the medical students, looking at body language, introductions and consent. Participants of the workshops gave feedback, reporting to have learnt how to resolve barriers between doctor and patient.

The students also ran poster workshops to introduce the concept of research posters and how they can display useful information.

Dr Ian Fussell, Community Sub Dean at the University of Exeter Medical School and Dr Nick Walker from Newquay, worked with Dr Abebe Getachew, the Dean of University Wollega Medical School to help establish a new Clinical Skills Lab. The team worked with the local GPs to provide clinical skills training to students from Exeter and Ethiopia, and in week 2, with the arrival of Dr Marshall’s team, the more technical simulation equipment was used.

Dr Fussell said: “Working with the local GPs and students in the Clinical Skills Lab was one of the major achievements of the trip. It gave the GPs a chance to try their hands at using and becoming confident with the new equipment provided by the Ethiopian Government. This is just one example of how successful the collaboration between the two groups has been. Dr Abebe invited local surgeons too, who were impressed by the developments at the Medical School and keen to increase their teaching commitment to the students.”

Dr Abebe Getachew, known as Dr Abebe, said: “When the link was established 2 years ago, it looked to be a fantastic opportunity for our students and the Medical School. It has proven to be effective, with the research, teaching and learning activities being fundamental to helping the students before they go to hospitals. ”

In addition Allie Mavor from Truro made links with local schools and the group visited the water and sewage works in an attempt to explore possible connections to further aid their development to benefit the town.

Timo Tolppa established contact with the Ethiopian Red Cross and conducted a two day placement to better understand how they operate. The placement proved fruitful, with the East-Wollega Zone Red Cross open to mutual projects, placements and training activities.

Timo said: “It was an absolute pleasure having the opportunity to see their work and I hope to keep in contact with them during my engagement in this partnership. There is an opportunity for future student placements with the Red Cross in Ethiopia, which would be a great experience for anyone looking for something outside of England.”

For more details on how to get involved, contact Dr Rob Marshall or visit the project website. The visit was part-funded by the Tropical Health and Education Trust.

Date: 19 February 2016

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