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Lincoln Study Shows Dyslexia Does Not Reduce Pass Rates For UK GP Licensing Exam


UK GPs with dyslexia are just as likely to pass the knowledge component of the licensing exam as their counterparts, a new study has found.

The Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) is part of the qualification needed to become a Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP) and become licensed to practice independently. Researchers examined pass rates of doctors-in-training who had taken the AKT and found that, once other factors linked to exam success were taken into account, those who declare dyslexia prior to taking their exams do not have lower pass rates.

Candidates who declared dyslexia after initially failing the exam were more likely to be minority ethnic candidates with a primary medical qualification outside of the UK.

The research, led by researchers from the University of Lincoln, UK, in collaboration with the MRCGP examination, compared data from 14,801 candidates who were tested between 2010 and 2015, of whom 379 declared dyslexia. Factors linked to exam success such as age, sex, ethnicity, country of primary medical qualification, stage of training, number of attempts, and the time spent completing tests were taken into account.

Significantly, findings highlight that those who did not declare their dyslexia initially and therefore were not given extra exam support, such as additional time, had higher failure rates. Data showed that overseas candidates were less likely to have initially declared their dyslexia.

Dyslexia affects around 6% of the UK population and around 2% of medical students. Features of dyslexia in adults can include problems with recall, reading, time management and task prioritisation which can make high stakes, multiple choice examinations like the mandatory AKT challenging.

The research has raised questions about dyslexia diagnosis during medical training, especially in those who use English as an additional language, who may not have been tested at an earlier stage in their education.  Currently, screening for dyslexia is not routinely provided by those responsible for training GPs. Lead researcher, Dr Zahid Asghar, Senior Lecturer in statistics at the University of Lincoln said: “Our research has found that, once the candidates’ age, gender, stage of training and other demographic traits are taken into account, dyslexia is not associated with lower pass rates in the AKT. However, the fact that doctors from overseas were more likely to declare dyslexia after initially failing the test is a significant finding.”

Niroshan Siriwardena, Professor of Primary & Pre-Hospital Health Care at the University of Lincoln, co-author of the study and research and development lead for assessment for the MRCGP said: “Our findings were reassuring for candidates declaring dyslexia in that they performed as well as other candidates taking the exam once other factors had been taken into account.

“The findings have highlighted that we need to look in more detail at screening and educational support for doctors with dyslexia, in particular those from minority ethnic groups, to remove potential barriers and create an inclusive training environment. We advocate more consistent and earlier screening to identify dyslexia as soon as possible during medical training. This is an approach that has proven successful in other clinical settings.”

The paper was published online in the Postgraduate Medical Journal. The full paper can be accessed here

University of Lincoln Graduate Establishes Unique Lincolnshire Counselling Hub

thumbnail_Alex Parkin Counselling Hub

A University of Lincoln graduate has established a successful counselling service in Lincolnshire supporting local children, young people and families. Alex Parkin, from Lincoln, graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care from the University in May 2017 shortly after co-founding the successful NW Counselling Hub CIC. Having worked in various care and supporting roles for most of her adult life, Alex felt that there was a gap in the provision and support available. With some communities in Lincolnshire finding it difficult to access mental health support, and counselling services, Alex and co-founder Naomi Watkins recognised the need to make counselling services more accessible in the county. The counselling hub now has a team of eighteen trained counsellors, offering mental health support for local communities as well as training opportunities for those looking to pursue a career in counselling. The hub provides a range of supportive therapies to suit age, need and demand and has been specially designed to create an environment where people feel comfortable and safe to talk. The team also has two therapy dogs.

Alex said: “People can sometimes be waiting months for the counselling support they need in the here and now. By creating the hub ourselves, we have been able to tailor a service for the wider community. Since opening in April 2017, we have been able to help more than 180 people. We believe this is down to the family-friendly feel, our open-minded staff and the lack of waiting lists along with the funding support we can provide.

She said her time at the University of Lincoln studying Health and Social Care had enabled her to develop her ideas.

“The course wasn’t just focused on one way of thinking or one specific idea,” she said. “In addition to the underpinning laws, policies and guidance, the course offered varied modules, viewpoints and learning materials which have enabled me to take a holistic approach to my job now. “I believe being self-employed and running a company has allowed me to use the knowledge even more as I have been able to use the teaching materials and also my tutor’s experiences and knowledge to ensure I shape the business in a way that works for the service user and empowers them. I couldn’t be where I am now without the tutors on the Health and Social Care team.”

Julie Burton, Programme Leader in the College of Social Science at the University of Lincoln said: “Alex is quite simply inspirational. She has taken every opportunity offered while at University and used it to its full advantage.

“Alex actually met her co-director when attending a Domestic Abuse conference organised by the students which led to work-based practice. Alex was also a student rep and we have seen her confidence grow so much during her time studying Health and Social Care.”

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University of Lincoln Hosts Society of Academic Primary Care Regional Conference



The Community and Health Research Unit and University of Lincoln hosted this year’s Trent Regional SAPC Spring sapc_lincoln1Conference at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel on Brayford Wharf in Lincoln. The conference included delegates from the Universities of Lincoln, Nottingham, Leicester and Sheffield and all over our region presenting and learning about the latest in primary care research and educational through orals, posters and workshops.

The conference keynote speakers were Chris Burton, Professor of Primary Care and Head of the Academic Unit of Primary Medical Care at the University of Sheffield, Aneez Esmail, Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester and Navjoyt Ladher, clinical editor at The BMJ. The conference was chaired by Professor Niro Siriwardena, Professor of Primary and Prehospital Healthcare and opened by Professor Sara Owen, Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Social Science at the University of Lincoln. Professor Burton, new in post at Sheffield, gave the first keynote in place of Professor Nigel Mathers who was recovering from illness. Everyone wished Professor Mathers well for his convalescence and return to health.

Professor Owen’s opening talk focussed on the rapid development and expansion in science and health research and teaching at Lincoln. Chris Burton’s opening keynote focussed on ‘Complexity’, commonly used, misused and sapc_lincoln2misunderstood in healthcare and research. He described the mathematics of complexity as he had applied it in his research to issues such as frequent health service use and how these were described by ‘heavy-tailed’ or log-log distributions.

There followed a series of excellent morning oral presentations, workshops and posters. Before lunch, Professor Esmail gave another outstanding keynote, ‘The problem with patient safety – challenging orthodoxies’ He certainly did challenge the conventional approach to patient safety and described how conventional attempts to reduce harm, in particularly using a target-driven approach, could lead to poorer outcomes and how it was necessary, even important, to accept some risk for better outcomes.

After lunch and viewing of the excellent posters on display, we were treated to further oral presentations and another educational workshop. The meeting ended with our final keynote from Dr Navjoyt Ladher, clinical editor at the British sapc_lincoln3Medical Journal, who spoke eloquently about ‘Goldilocks medicine’ and the art of getting medicine right, particularly focussing on the harms of medicalisation and overtreatment. She went onto to talk about the editorial process at the BMJ, while encouraging primary care researchers to submit their studies to the journal.

The day ended with prizes awarded to the best poster, ‘Predictors of postpartum return to smoking: a systematic review’ by Sophie Orton, Tim Coleman, Tom Coleman-Haynes and Michael Ussher of Nottingham University, and the best oral presentation, which went to Michael Toze from CaHRU at the University of Lincoln for his doctoral research presentation, ‘Coming out in general practice: the experience of older LGBT patients’. Flowers, wine and a big vote of thanks went to Sue Bowler for her work organising the conference and making the day such a success, supported by the CaHRU team and members of staff from the other institutions involved.

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New year, time for a body MOT?


In partnership with Human Resources, School of Sport and Exercise Science 3rd year undergraduate student Jess Slater is running a small clinic for any member of University staff to receive health screening assessments including height, weight, blood pressure, grip strength and peak flow. Furthermore, recommendations on how to improve your health and lifestyle are also suggested. Jess has received specific training from the academic team in the School prior to running this project and is directly supervised by Geoff Middleton.

We would be delighted if you could support a student project, so if you think you might be able to drop-by please note that the clinic will between the 3rd Feb to the 10th March (for 6 weeks) between the hours of from 11:30am – 1:30pm on Fridays (Wednesday 15th of February is also available between 12 – 2pm).

To organise a personal appointment please email Jess directly in advance

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