Edge Hill University Medical School to offer Physician Associate courses

Clare Austin

The new Medical School at Edge Hill University will train Physician Associates from 2019. Health Education England have commissioned the Medical School to train 30 students per annum on a two-year postgraduate programme. Along with the MBChB degree training doctors, the Physician Associate programme will run at the University’s Ormskirk Campus.

Physician Associates are generalist healthcare professionals with medical training who work alongside doctors as part of a multidisciplinary team. Working under the supervision of doctors, Physician Associates carry out many similar tasks such as taking medical histories, examining patients, diagnosing illness and planning and managing treatment. The number of Physician Associates across the UK is increasing, with job roles in a variety of settings including GP surgeries, accident and emergency departments, and inpatient medical and surgical wards. The programme will be recruiting graduates in life sciences with some healthcare experience. Details regarding application will be published on the Medical School website in due course.

Professor Clare Austin, Director of Medical Education said:

“Physician Associates are a vital part of the teams delivering medical care to our communities. Our trainees will benefit from the Medical School’s focus on interprofessional working and supportive learning environment. We look forward to working with another group of committed, aspiring professionals.”

The Edge Hill University Medical School will develop a new generation of doctors who understand the needs of local communities and can drive forward new models of care. The first intake of trainee doctors will be in 2020, with a Foundation Year starting in 2019.

For information about Edge Hill University Medical School, see ehu.ac.uk/medicalschool

Adjunct Professorship at AUT Auckland for Edge Hill academic

Edge Hill’s Bernie Carter, Professor of Children’s Nursing, has been made an Adjunct Professor at AUT (Auckland University of Technology), New Zealand.

Bernie’s research focuses on children and young people whose lives are disrupted by pain, illness, disability, complex health care needs and disadvantage, and the ways in which this affects their parents, brothers and sisters and family life.

As part of her role at AUT, she will focus on children and young people, considering issues including pain, chronic illness and clinical holding.

Bernie said: “Most of the research I do uses arts-based methods and is very participatory in its approach so that we can make sure that we hear and respond to the views and perspectives of the children and young people.”

The role will involve Bernie visiting Auckland and a colleague from AUT has already undertaken a sabbatical at Edge Hill.

Professor Bernie Carter

“The opportunity to formalise the collaboration that commenced around 20 years ago on a research visit I undertook to New Zealand is fantastic. On my first visit I met up with Dr Annette Dickinson and the friendship we formed during that visit has been the basis for all of the work that we have achieved since then. AUT is a great University to be an Adjunct Professor; a real honour. The Faculty of Health at AUT is as ambitious and innovative as the Faculty of Health and Social Care at Edge Hill, so it’s a perfect partnering,” Bernie said.

Bernie is a children’s nurse who trained at London’s Great Ormond Street and who has worked in children’s surgery, neonatal intensive care, children’s high dependency and children’s intensive care settings in various hospitals in the North West of England. Whilst in practice she found she had more questions than answers, which signalled the start of her research career.


She joined Edge Hill University in February 2016 to contribute to and co-lead the rapidly growing Children, Young People and Families Research Group. As part of her Professorial role, she is the Director of the Children’s Nursing Research Unit (CNRU) at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.


Bernie is also the Director of ‘Circle’, an international collaboration of children’s nurses whose mission is ‘making things better for children and families’ through research. Key partners in ‘Circle’ are based in child health research units in New Zealand and Tasmania, offering fantastic opportunities for joint research and scholarship.

Can the food you consume affect your mood? Student finds out thanks to nutrition studentship

A Nutrition and Health student at Edge Hill University who wants to investigate how food affects mood has won a coveted Summer Studentship from the Nutrition Society.

Lindsay Hodgson, from Ormskirk, will be working on an eight week research project with the aim of discovering if there is a link between certain types of food and anxiety levels, supervised by Edge Hill’s Dr Catherine Tsang, Senior Lecturer in Human Nutrition and Health.

The Nutrition Society’s Summer Studentships are aimed at undergraduates interested in a career in nutritional science, and they provide undergraduates, registered on nutrition or related degree programmes, the opportunity to undertake a period of research in a University, research institute or industrial setting.

“My 23 year old daughter suffers from anxiety, and one day she told me that on the days when she eats well, her levels of anxiety are lower,” said Lindsay. “This inspired me to want to look into it further.”

Lindsay is collaborating with Belgian chocolate company, Barry Callebaut, who have developed polyphenol-rich dark chocolate and placebos for the research volunteers to consume.

The 30 volunteers taking part have been split into two groups.  One group will consume 25g of the polyphenol-rich dark chocolate (the equivalent of a couple of squares of chocolate) daily over a four week period, and the other will consume the placebo chocolate.

Samples of their saliva will be taken so Lindsay can measure the levels of cortisol before, during and after the four week process and the volunteers will also be asked to fill in a PANAS questionnaire at various points which will measure their mood.

Lindsay is hopeful that the levels of cortisol will reduce and the mood scales will improve for those who have consumed the polyphenol-rich dark chocolate, and there will be no change in the other group.

This research could help uncover whether consuming this polyphenol-rich dark chocolate can help boost peoples’ mood and help them feel better mentally.

“I was so shocked when I found out I had been awarded a Summer Studentship but I’m really excited,” said Lindsay. “I have Catherine working with me so I know I will have all the support I need. I’m pleased to have such a great opportunity and I’m looking forward to working on a research project from start to finish so I can understand the whole process.”

Lindsay decided to return to higher education after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.

“When I was diagnosed, I wondered why it had happened – was it because of something I was eating? Was there anything I could do to make it better? There was so much conflicting information online, and I wanted to learn more about the research process so I could try and help other people going through the same thing.”

Each student will present their findings at the Nutrition Futures conference in September 2018 in Newcastle. One student will be awarded as the overall winner of the Summer Studentships at the Society’s annual reception in December.

Find out more about Edge Hill’s Nutrition and Health course here.

Gallery: Professor Green at Edge Hill

UK rapper Professor Green, who recently made the acclaimed documentary Working Class White Men for Channel 4, was ‘in conversation’ on the same subject at a free public event at Edge Hill on 7 June.

The event saw Professor Green discuss the difficulties today’s youth face and what more can be done to bring about equality in society with Edge Hill’s Dr Eleanor Peters and Grace Robinson, chaired by Sean Creaney, Lecturer in Psychosocial Analysis of Offending Behaviour. He also met and chatted with students.

In Conversation: Professor Green on Working Class White Males was part of the University’s third annual Festival of Ideas, which this year explores a theme of Equalities.The Festival is a series of talks, exhibitions and performances to engage academics, students and members of the public in conversations upon a common theme and is programmed by Edge Hill’s three research institutes, The Postgraduate Medical Institute (PGMI), The Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice (I4P), and The Institute for Creative Enterprise (ICE).

Edge Hill Medical School launches course for aspiring doctors from the North West

Edge Hill University Medical School has announced the launch of a Foundation Year for Medicine, starting in 2019.

The one-year course will prepare students to enter the five-year medical degree that starts in 2020. The Foundation Year is for students from the region who have the right A-level qualifications, but need to reach a higher academic standard before they can start on a degree in Medicine.

Applications will be through UCAS with a deadline of October 15th 2018.

Professor Clare Austin, Director of Medical Education, said: “The Foundation Year is a fantastic opportunity for people with the aspiration to become doctors, whose circumstances may have held them back. We want to recruit people with the potential to become part of a new generation of doctors and the Foundation Year is an important part of making that happen.”  

To apply for the course applicants will need 120 UCAS Tariff points including A-level Biology and Chemistry at Grade B or above, or equivalent, plus at least five GCSEs at Grade B or Grade 6 or above including Biology, Chemistry, English Language and Mathematics. In addition applicants must meet widening participation criteria as detailed here.

“This is a brand new opportunity for students studying Biology and Chemistry A-levels, which they may not have considered before as they progress through college or Sixth Form,” said Clare.

“Unlike most degrees, applications for medicine need to be in by October 15th so anyone thinking the Foundation Year might be for them is advised to do their research over the summer to be ready to apply promptly in the autumn. Coming to an Open Day is the best way to find out more: they are a great way to find out about the course, university life and practicalities such as accommodation and finance.”

The new Edge Hill University Medical School is one of only three new free-standing medical schools in the country, with a mission to develop a new generation of doctors who understand the needs of the local communities and can drive forward new models of care.

Successful completion of the Foundation Year at the required pass mark enables progression onto the five-year MBChB medical programme at Edge Hill University which commences in 2020.

Undergraduate medical education delivered by all universities is subject to a GMC approval process and the MBChB programme at Edge Hill University is due to complete the required stages of that process for September 2020 entry.

Anyone interested in the Foundation Year can find out more at the Edge Hill University Open Day on Saturday June 16th.

Edge Hill academic explores how eyebrows help shape our identity

Can you determine someone’s personality traits by simply looking at their eyebrows? An academic from Edge Hill’s Faculty of Health is working on a project to find out how important eyebrows are in shaping our identity.

Dr Catherine Wilkinson, Lecturer in Children, Young People and Families, is conducting the research with a small team of academics, including her twin sister, Dr Samantha Wilkinson, Lecturer in Human Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Heavy, exaggerated, dark eyebrows – often referred to as ‘Scouse Brows’ – are usually connected with women in Liverpool, often derided as evidence of poor or no taste and associated with working class women. Catherine hopes to challenge the negative press around this style of eyebrow, celebrate their cultural importance, and discover how the sculpting of eyebrows can define where we come from.

Catherine has been interviewing both men and women, and those with or without eyebrows, to find out how important the eyebrow is to them.

At a four-day ‘Brews and Brows’ project event at FACT Liverpool, Catherine and her sister held a focus group and informal interviews with a diverse range of people, including brow artists and clients, from different areas, ages, races and sexualities.

Catherine said: “The interviews were so interesting in illuminating the cultural significance of eyebrows. Many people shared emotional stories with us about the sculpting of their brows and those without eyebrows confessed to mourning or lamenting the loss of their brows. Certainly, the importance of eyebrows moves beyond their feature as facial hair, to a culturally, emotionally and geographically significant micro-gesture”.

The next step of the research project is an eyebrow symposium which will be held on Tuesday 2nd October – National Brow Day.

New Midwifery Masters degree launched

Edge Hill University has launched a new MSc Midwifery programme for registered nurses working in adult care who seek dual registration.

With funding available to cover fees and living costs, the innovative 18-month programme provides an accessible career development route that will increase the number of midwives working in the region. Applicants need to have a minimum of one year’s practice in adult nursing.

Julie Williams, Associate Dean for Teaching & Learning in the Faculty of Health & Social Care, said:

“Our new Masters programme is both challenging and exciting. Students will develop to become confident and capable midwives with all the skills the profession needs, including leadership and management competences required by the role.”

Students on the programme will learn how to support women and their families through the childbirth continuum, first exploring normal reproductive physiology during pregnancy and childbirth and then examining potential complications, including clinical skills provision for women with complex care needs. Exploring research and evidence-based practice in maternal and neonatal health will introduce students to relevant research methodologies, while a focus on leadership and change in health and social care will equip them with the skills required to be a practice innovator. Students will also explore maternity care in the broader context of the contemporary public health agenda.

Clinical practice placement will account for 60 per cent of the programme and may take place at one of the eight placement provider sites.

The MSc starts in September 2018 and application is directly to the University.

For more information see edgehill.ac.uk/courses/midwifery-msc/

Student to spend placement helping sick children in Ghana

Passionate about expanding her knowledge, second-year Child Nursing student Bethany Attwood will be travelling to Ghana to care for sick children as part of her undergraduate professional placement.

Bethany, aged 20 from Warrington, decided she wanted to visit Ghana to gain experience in different healthcare settings, particularly within a developing country.

With the help of healthcare placement organisation Work the World, Bethany will be flying out to Takoradi early next year, where she will have the opportunity to work across several units in Ghana’s healthcare system.

Work the World create award winning placements for students and healthcare professionals, and as well as organising her transport and accommodation, they will provide free language lessons so that Bethany will be able to speak with the residents in Fante, Ghana.

 “I feel the trip is so important because since 2011 we have seen an increase in children born from Ghanaian families in the UK,” said Bethany. “This trip will not only benefit those in need in Ghana but also my future career by having experience from a developing country.”

During her four-week placement, Bethany will spend time on an inpatient ward where she will help to care for children who may have cases such as malaria, haemolytic anaemia, pneumonia, sickle cell disease, typhoid and meningitis. Next, she’ll work the outpatients unit, treating around fifty cases a day which will include children with some of the conditions mentioned above, as well as skin and ear conditions. Her third week will be spent in Obstetrics, helping the Ghanaian mothers give birth to their babies, and she will spend her final week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, caring for babies who are severely unwell.

“The amazing part about my placement in Ghana will be having the exposure of conditions in children which we are unlikely to see in the UK,” said Bethany. “As Ghana is a developing country I will have the chance to care for children suffering with malnutrition and attend HIV clinics. During the weekend I will have some free time in which I will visit the local orphanage, and I’m hoping to take an extra suitcase full of toys, clothes, pencils and notepads to donate to the children.”

Bethany is hoping to raise £2,000 to help fund her placement. If you would like to help donate towards her trip visit her GoFundMe page.

Children In Need

Darcie Caldcleugh believes her BSc in Child Health and Wellbeing prepared her “in the best way possible” for employment. And she needed to be prepared. After graduating in 2016, she now works as a children’s worker with a registered charity, helping young people experiencing domestic abuse. And it can be hard: “I realised quite quickly that I needed to learn what worked for me in terms of being able to switch my ‘work-brain’ off once I’d left the office - but it took me a while to find my work-life balance, especially when I was in a role where I was required to do regular 24-hour on-call shifts.” Immersing herself in a Netflix session, or going to the footie, helped her find that balance, but it was her training during the course that really paved the way for her to conquer the emotional demands of this – modules on child protection and safeguarding, research into domestic abuse, front line placements with organisations such as Greater Manchester Police. But it’s knowing that what she does makes a difference that really helps get Darcie through the night: “It’s easier to stay strong knowing that we are offering support to children and young people who really need it, where they may not have had a safe space to be able to talk about the things that they have experienced before. The one thing I like to make sure the children know is that I’m there primarily for them. Sometimes just having somebody to validate your feelings can make a big difference. Seeing children able to communicate their feelings, or knowing that their voice has been heard through the work I’ve done, helps to motivate me and to keep going.” Darcie always knew she wanted to work with children – she just wasn’t sure about the specific area. Child Health and Wellbeing was the ideal course for her, then, because it covered children and young people of all ages across a broad range of subjects, ultimately providing access to a similarly broad range of career options on graduation. What she was sure about was where she wanted to learn: “I was drawn to Edge Hill University from the minute I began looking at higher education. I can’t speak highly enough of the tutors as they really do bring so much knowledge to the course. You can tell that the tutors are genuinely passionate about what they’re teaching, and this makes for a really great environment to learn in. I found that whenever I was struggling, the tutors would take the time to help guide me through the topic until I felt confident.” And she had the opportunity to build into her programme optional modules which she believed could strengthen her employability armoury, such as a crash course in Complementary and Alternative Therapies: “The things that I learned researching mindfulness have really come in handy when working with children and young people who show signs of struggling with anxiety. Of course, in cases where the child needs direct support from a specialist service we would refer, however with some children who may just need to explore coping strategies, mindfulness offers a simple and effective strategy to allow them to learn how to calm themselves down in stressful or anxious situations.” Moira Little leads on the BSc Child Health and Wellbeing programme and believes that the transferable skills students pick up during the course, alongside the placement opportunities, make graduates very attractive to employers: “We provide a range of enrichment and ‘added value’ experiences throughout the three-year programme, including British Red Cross paediatric first aid training, the Solihull Parenting Programme, Heartstart instructor training for cardiac emergencies, basic food hygiene training, mental health first aid, and community sport training.” Pragmatism lies at the heart of the course philosophy, which aims from the start to mentally and physically prepare students to enter a work environment where they are likely to face some upsetting situations, and are able to think on their feet, and use creativity to tailor their responses in each individual case. Moira says that the team of Edge Hill teachers plays a crucial role in preparing people for work: “The team includes sociologists, psychologists, nutritionists, dieticians, health visitors, paediatricians, learning disability and mental health nurses, nursery owners, criminologists and counsellors. They have work and life experiences that allow them to share examples, to enable students to conceptualise situations, and make very important links between theory and practice.” The cornerstone of the course, then, is the emphasis on mandatory four-week work placements, with students encouraged to take further opportunities should they arise. Darcie spent a month with the Greater Manchester Police Child Protection team: “I was able to shadow officers not only carrying out visits and interviews, but getting first-hand experience on how child protection laws and legislations are applied. I found I had a particular interest in domestic abuse, which inspired my dissertation topic around child sexual abuse. Seeing professionals interacting with children and families who were experiencing difficult, and in some cases, traumatic circumstances was invaluable, as I now deal with those situations on a daily basis and can build on what I experienced within my placement to ensure that I’m providing the best support possible for any family I may work with.” With such a positive and effective training experience behind her, Darcie is taking professional life in her stride. But she is also keen to emphasise how much she enjoyed the whole student experience: “Going to University was my biggest aspiration and my greatest achievement. Edge Hill was everything I wanted University to be. I enjoyed every minute of living on campus during my first year – it helped that the accommodation was of a very high standard.” Although admitting it’s odd, Darcie treasures memories of “walking back across campus at 4am after spending all night in the library, and getting back home to watch WrestleMania Live with flatmates: “I think that might have been when I truly felt like a student.” That, and spending Mondays down the local indie rock night. And the University also provided her with something that it’s impossible to put a price on: “The best thing I’ve come away from Edge Hill with (other than my actual degree) is the friendships I made. I’m still regularly in touch with my friends from my course and to be able to graduate with them by my side was the best ending to an amazing three years.” And with that Darcie returns to trying to help transform the lives of other children and young people.

Leading youth charity calls for greater focus on empathic relationships

Anne-Marie Douglas, founder of social justice charity Peer Power, visited Edge Hill University to talk at an event about the health and wellbeing needs of young people in the justice system.

The event was held by The Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice (I4P) in association with the Faculty of Health and Social Care. Along with Anne-Marie, guest speakers included Youth Engagement Co-ordinator Ebi Lyere and Peer Leader, Seth Khan.

In an engaging and interactive session, the speakers discussed their work influencing system change, by promoting young people’s meaningful involvement in services at an individual and policy level. Peer Power, who specialise in empathy development, co-production and social and emotional learning for practitioners and young people, urged delegates to do more to ensure that the voices of young people, especially those most vulnerable and marginalised, are heard and acted upon.

“At Peer Power we believe that the relationship IS the intervention. It is what young people tell us, and it is what research tells us. The antidote for trauma is empathy and a secure trusted relationship. It is relational care that heals relational trauma. We are biologically wired to connect, as babies we do not thrive without connection and that this does not stop at childhood, we have a deep need to belong, to be seen, heard and understood,” said Anne Marie.

“Rather than focusing on young people’s criminality, practitioners could seek to understand that perhaps young people in their services have potentially suffered numerous losses in their lives, for example, bereavement of family or friends, loss of identity, loss of previous practitioners in their lives, and this might be a real factor in their engagement with services,” added Ebi.

The event, welcomed and introduced by Dr John Cater, Vice-Chancellor of Edge Hill, attracted high profile representatives from the sector, including Cheshire Youth Justice Services and Cheshire Police. The event was also supported by the Rt. Hon Lord Bradley, who is a Non-Executive Director at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, a Trustee of the Centre for Mental Health and a Trustee of Prison Reform Trust.

Lord Bradley said:

“As was highlighted in my review of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities in the criminal justice system, there can be a lack of adequate assessment and identification of problems at an early stage. I recommended more training, for both health and criminal justice professionals. Discussed at their Edge Hill University event, social justice charity Peer Power made recommendations to improve the emotional support and wellbeing that young people receive in the youth justice system. Crucially, Peer Power called for greater focus on empathic relationships and more emphasis on ensuring young people’s voices are listened to and acted upon throughout the system”

Sean Creaney, Lecturer in Psychosocial Analysis of Offending Behaviour at Edge Hill University, added:

“It was a privilege to welcome Anne-Marie, Ebi and Seth to the University. The Peer Power event was interactive, engaging, authentic and powerful.”