Skin Deep

Cardiff University Teaches Doctors via the Internet

Cardiff (UK), November - A Cardiff University course that helps doctors internationally to improve patient care from their computers is the runner-up in this year's education awards by the Times Higher Education Supplement.

While the award in the category "Most Imaginative Use of Distance Learning" a ctually went to the University of Nottingham instead, the nomination has honoured eTeaching efforts in a field where "Distance Diagnosis" is the exception, not the rule.

Years ago, it would have seemed unlikely that a doctor practising in the Australian outback could also be studying at a UK university. Now Cardiff University School of Medicine's Diploma in Practical Dermatology runs the programme of study as a distance Learning course in managing the kind of skin problems that doctors who are General Practitioners (GPs) encounter as a large part of their daily caseload.

The diploma course has been taught entirely online since 2002, recognising that busy healthcare professionals value the flexibility of eLearning to study whilst continuing their everyday work.

This year alone, more than 450 physicians are participating in the programme with almost half coming from outside the UK and Ireland; about thirty per cent are from Hong Kong. Doctors from Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, India, the United States, and Canada are also among the online student population.

Course Director, Dr Maria Gonzalez, a Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University, said, "The diploma has enabled more than 300 GPs a year to increase their knowledge, skills, and confidence when managing everyday skin conditions. Many new and innovative ways of learning have been developed for the course."

Marcus Stone, a partner in a private general practice medical centre in Auckland, New Zealand who has completed the course said, "The Cardiff diploma fills an important gap for the busy GP anywhere in the world with a special interest in dermatology. You finish with a satisfying sense of achievement and a knowledge base that adds real confidence to dermatological consultations."