WIT considers options on new medical school

WATERFORD Institute of Technology (WIT) is examining its options in relation to setting up a new medical school in the South-East.

A report in Medicine Weekly says WIT director Professor Kieran R Byrne confirmed to the publication that the institute was keen to extend its participation in medical education, following on from its successful Department of Nursing and Health Sciences. The current internal discussions were also a response to the Fottrell Report on entry to medical education, Prof Byrne said.

Waterford Regional Hospital has been a full teaching hospital of the RCSI since 1998, and Prof Byrne indicated that the Institute would be working closely with the College of Surgeons on any future plans.

Medical students from the RCSI currently go to Waterford, stay in accommodation adjacent to the hospital and attend lectures, clinical teaching, and tutorials in medicine, surgery, paediatrics and otolaryngology.

The latest moves come hot on the heels of the drive to establish the country’s first exclusive graduate medical school at the University of Limerick by as early as October 2006, and the country’s first cross-border graduate entry medical school to be based at the University of Ulster’s Magee Campus in Derry by the following year.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education and Science is expected to set up a committee to introduce its radical reforms to the medical education system.

The Higher Education Authority’s Head of Policy Planning, Dr Fergal Costello, last week said that Minister Mary Hanafin had responded to the recommendations made by the Working Group on Undergraduate Medical Education and Training through the HEA.

He said Ms Hanafin said she would consider the broad range of recommendations in tandem with the health minister. However, a Department of Health spokesperson said Hawkins House had not been informed of implementation groups being set up.

Dr Costello said the reforms would prepare medical practitioners for their changing role in a reformed health sector, and address the negative impact of the ‘points-race’ phenomenon on second-level students going through senior cycle while ensuring high calibre entrants to the profession.

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