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In July and August, twenty medical students from the Arab American University of Palestine (AAUP), based in Jenin, visited Oxford for two weeks to learn clinical skills and observe OUH clinicians.

Medical students from the Arab American University of Palestine

Written by Tabitha Thornton-Swan, Sixth-year Medical Student and Director of OxPal

The course was organised by OxPal, a medical student-led initiative lead by Ayesha Musa (outgoing Director) and Tabitha Thornton-Swan (current Director), and started in 2018 with the aim of delivering high quality virtual medical education to students in Palestine. OxPal was supported throughout by Dr Richard Harrington, Dr Elize Richards and Dr Katy Boncey, without whom this project would never have been a success.

The visiting students had completed three years of pre-clinical studies and were about to start their first clinical year. They were selected for the course by competitive application, organised by the Dean of AAUP Professor Malik Zaben. The aim of the two week course was to support the student’s transition to clinical medicine by teaching foundational skills including basic clinical and examination skills and to inspire the students about the possibilities their future medical careers will give them.

Students sat around a table with lecturer

When in Oxford, students attended seminars in communication skills and medical ethics, received clinical skills teaching at the JR skills lab and simulation training with OxSTaR (Oxford Simulation, Teaching and Research), and enjoyed a surgical skills course run by Green Templeton College’s Doll Fellow Mr Ali Ansaripour, facilitated by senior surgical trainees and consultants. They also shadowed doctors on the wards and in theatre with the women’s health, anaesthetics, general medicine and surgical teams. The students had the opportunity for a day trip to London, and were also hosted at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, for Friday prayers and lunch, and  by the Oxford Ramallah Friendship Association.

Students sat around a table with surgical equipment on the table

Commenting on the summer school, Dr Richard Harrington, Associate Director of Graduate Entry Medicine, said: “I felt honoured to have played a part in facilitating the Oxford MedEd summer school for students from the new AAUP medical school in Jenin. We are privileged in Oxford to have such a wealth of educational facilities and inspirational colleagues; to be able to share these resources with future doctors from low and middle income nations feels only appropriate. I do hope this venture can be the start of a regular commitment. Particularly inspirational has been the leadership, commitment and sheer graft provided by the directors and team of OxPal, lead by Ayesha Musa and Tabitha Thornton-Swan. Respect to them.”

Numerous Oxford clinicians and medical students gave their time to teach and to befriend the medical students during their stay, and OxPal are very grateful to everyone who helped make the summer school a success. The students gave excellent feedback from their experiences, and OxPal, together with Dr Richard Harrington and Dr Elize Richards, are hoping to run the summer school again to give as many students as possible this learning opportunity in the future.

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