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Healthcare Professionals

Involving Patients - Training and Education

Patients have always been involved in the training of health care workers, but traditionally in passive roles as ‘interesting learning material’. However, the important role that patients play in medical education is increasingly becoming recognised, not least because they are viewed as being experts in their own illness or condition.

Furthermore, recent government policy stresses the importance of working in partnership with patients as part of commissioning processes and therefore new educational strategies are required to ensure that all healthcare professionals (including undergraduate and postgraduate students) can develop their skills and attitudes to support this relationship.

In line with this, there are a number of ways in which the expertise and insight of patients can be utilised within medical education, including:

  • using patients in the teaching and assessment of undergraduate and postgraduate health care professionals
  • involving patients in curriculum development
  • having lay representation on selection panels
  • Continuing professional development (CPD) activities
  • NHS Appraisal

The involvement of patients in medical training and education has the following benefits:

  • it provides students, trainees and doctors with an opportunity to learn and then to apply their knowledge and skills in real and teaching settings;
  • it motivates by emphasising the relevance of learning; it helps to develop clinical reasoning;
  • it encourages the valuing of cultural diversity;
  • it fosters empathy and the development of professional skills including communication;
  • Patient interaction in undergraduate education offers students a valuable early insight into the day-to-day role of a doctor and the patient perspective on specific conditions.


  • improved training of the medical workforce, resulting in improved healthcare for the whole population;
  • improving their own knowledge of their condition, share their knowledge and expertise with the learner;
  • a sense of altruistic notion of greater social benefit from having participated in medical education.
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