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Allergy teaching is suboptimal and heterogeneous in the undergraduate medical curriculum in the UK

Abstract

Aim To record the level of allergy teaching occurring in UK medical schools. The UK has experienced an ‘allergy epidemic’ during the last 3–4 decades. Previous government reviews have emphasised the importance of allergy education and training, treating common allergies in primary care with referral pathways to a specialist and the creation of regional networks. It is acknowledged that the delivery of allergy teaching in UK medical schools is variable, despite the well-recognised need.

Methods All consultant members of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology involved in teaching medical students were invited to partake in qualitative research, employing an online questionnaire for data collection. Participants were asked to comment on the format of the allergy teaching delivered, the student participation and the clinical opportunities provided. Students were recruited to complete a similar survey as supporting evidence.

Results 44 responses were collected, representing 64.7% of medical schools in the UK. Clinical allergy placements were compulsory in 31.8% of medical schools that responded. In 36.4%, it was reported that less than 10% of students had an opportunity to take an independent history from a patient with allergic disease, or practise using an epinephrine autoinjector. 90.9% responded that an allergy rotation was not offered to final year students.

Conclusions Allergy undergraduate teaching is suboptimal and heterogeneous in UK medical schools and there is a real need for standardisation as a means to enhance quality of care.

  • anaphylactic reactions
  • immunology
  • medical education

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