A senior academic responsible for the development of the Three Counties Medical School at the University of Worcester has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Academy of Medical Educators, one of the highest honours possible within the field of medical education.
Professor John Cookson was given this prestigious award in recognition of his exceptional lifetime achievements and his tireless hard work in helping to establish several medical schools, from Leicester to Warwick, Hull York, and from Botswana to, most recently, the Three Counties Medical School at the University of Worcester.
Professor Cookson joined the University of Worcester as Development Dean for the University’s ambitious Three Counties Medical School project in 2017. Over the past four years he has led the University’s work to establish a medical school in the region, with the aim of providing highly skilled doctors for the three counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, as well as the wider health service nationally.
“There’s good evidence that graduating doctors tend to go on to work in the same area that they graduated in,” Professor Cookson said. “So the Three Counties Medical School has the potential to make a real contribution to the recruitment and retention of doctors throughout the region, and beyond. At the moment our nearest medical schools are in Birmingham and Bristol, so this is a big step forward for the local area.”
In August the General Medical Council announced that the University of Worcester had been given the go ahead to begin recruiting students for the Three Counties Medical School, with the first cohort due to start in 2022.
“We’ve tailored our curriculum to make sure that it harmonises with the University’s existing strengths,” he added. “We want to have a course that is very much focussed on working in close collaboration with your local community for the benefit of all.”
“We don’t want to be an ivory tower, we want to build strong partnerships within our community. I think the Three Counties Medical School has the potential to set a new benchmark for working in a truly integrated way with our local NHS partners.”
On his Honorary Fellowship, Professor Cookson, a Consultant in general and respiratory medicine himself in the past, said: “I’m very grateful, but really it’s a recognition of the work I have been involved in, rather than a recognition of me as an individual. There are many people who have worked with me over the years who have also played an enormous part in the good work that we have done.”
The Academy of Medical Educators was founded to help establish a framework for what a medical educator should look like, what knowledge, skills and aptitudes are needed in this most complex of fields. And as a highly esteemed medical educator in his own right, with an enduring reputation both nationally and internationally, Professor Cookson is now bringing all his experience to bear on the establishment of a fresh concept in medical education in the shape of the Three Counties Medical School.
“You need to recognise the difference between education and training if you’re going to build a successful medical school,” he said. “People think that the university handles the education, and the NHS does the training, and whilst there’s some truth in that, it’s not so simple. Getting the balance right is crucial.”
“At Worcester we don’t want doctors who can only do today’s job but not tomorrow’s,” he added. “Education helps people learn to learn for a lifetime, and to adapt to changing circumstances.”