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A mixed-methods project evaluating a new surgical curriculum.

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J Cleland
    Prof Kenneth Walker
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

This exciting, fully-funded (UK-EU fee status) PhD combines quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate the “Improving Surgical Training” (IST) core surgical training curriculum. IST has been developed to address issues in the 2-years of core surgical training, such as tension between service and training, and loss of the traditional surgical firm. After much development work, IST was introduced on a pilot basis across the UK in 2018. This project focuses on the Scottish experience of IST: IST has been embraced across Scotland so all core surgical trainees will be in the IST curriculum.

This time of educational change affords a unique opportunity to explore how curricular change influences phenomena such as trainer-trainee relationships, feedback, the formation of professional identity, and integration into the surgical community of practice. A mixed methods study design is envisaged, using:
- qualitative methods such as interviews, document/portfolio content analysis and/or observations
- quantitative analysis of routine data (such as Annual Review of Competency Progression data)
- standardised questionnaires
- and cross-sectional/repeated surveys using validated tools or new data collection tools

However, the precise focus, aims and objectives of the PhD will be agreed between the student and the supervisory team once the student is familiar with the topic and area.

Applicants must be prepared to travel as this research will involve data collection from hospitals across Scotland; attendance at meetings and forums in, for example, Glasgow and Edinburgh; and the possibility of some Uk-wide and international travel. This PhD is part of a wider programme of work evaluating IST in Scotland and the applicant will be expected to be able to work effectively as part of an extended team of colleagues from surgical/medical education and training.

The supervisory team is a multi-disciplinary group of researchers, clinicians and educators, each of whom brings specific skills and knowledge to the project. The supervisory team have much experience in surgical education research and evaluation, and supervising doctorates to successful completion.

The student would be expected to be based in Aberdeen or Inverness.

This PhD may be of interest to a doctor wishing to take time out of training, and/or someone who wishes to pursue surgical specialty training in the future. It would also be of interest to someone with a social science (e.g., education, psychology, sociology) or health services research background. It would suit someone who is comfortable working in a pragmatic mixed-methods paradigm. Postgraduate knowledge of research design and methods would be desirable but not essential, as would an understanding of the surgical training pathway within the UK.

The successful application would join a thriving team in the Centre of Healthcare Education and Innovation (CHERI), College of Life Sciences and Medicine (CLSM), University of Aberdeen. CHERI hostis many PhD students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. CLSM offers a training programme containing essential/compulsory and optional elements depending on the field of study. The successful student will also be expected to attend specific research training related to their project. CHERI students also have permission to attend teaching delivered as part of the Postgraduate Certificate and Diploma in Clinical Education.

See these websites for further information:

Interviews will be held in August 2019. These can be remote or in person. Please contact Prof Cleland (see below) to find out more.

Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Sciences, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing.


Funding Notes

Full funding is available to UK/EU candidates only. Overseas candidates can apply for this studentship but will have to find additional funding to cover the difference between overseas and home fees (approximately £15,680 per annum). There is additional funding in place to cover generous travel and research training costs. The successful application could start in August-October 2019.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered provided they have a Merit/Commendation/Distinction at Masters level.

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