Changing the conversation about health

Whole Person Care Course, The University of Bristol

CoM Tags:

Bristol Medical School, whole person, integrated health, College of Medicine

The University of Bristol offers first year medical undergraduates a foundation training in whole person care care.

The course features teaching on systems thinking, the therapeutic relationship, PNI, the arts in healthcare, compulsory creativity, and integrative medicine. It was the winner of the education section of our Innovations Award 2011.

Read our interview with course founder Dr Trevor Thompson here.

Year established
Number of staff
22 tutors
Number of users
Is there a charge to users?
What makes your project sustainable?
Constant reassessment of course content and use of technology to involve speakers by video link.
We are innovative in taking holism into the core medical curriculum in a traditional (preclinicial/clinical) medical course. The course has striven to make itself feel relevant to students and deal with possible negative associations of holism. Our ‘compulsory creativity’ teaching is possibly unique in the world for medical students.Here are the seven themes or “Big Ideas” of the WPC Element:

1. Levels of Health and Illness. Health and illness exist in many levels in a system.
2. Creating Resilient Systems. The best interventions promote systemic health.
3. Self-healing in the human system. People have intrinsic abilities to regain health.
4. The Art of Medicine. Stories and therapeutic relationships shape good medical care.
5. Mind-Body Medicine. Emotional health connects to bodily health.
6. Self care and self-development. The things that breed resilient doctors.
7. Integrative Medicine. Holism in practice — learning from different philosophies of health.

How does it share the College’s ethos?
We provide integrated health education for the doctors of the future.
Patient-Centred, whole person preventative approach
Patients come and share their stories live or on video.
Students will already have learned a great deal about the things that determine how people get ill, and get help when they are ill. They should have managed to see concepts such as “the sick role”, “lay referral networks”, and different styles of doctor-patient relationship visibly demonstrated in GP attachments.They will have also started to learn how to assess what medical treatments work in which conditions and for which patients in the Clinical Epidemiology element. In the Ethics element they see how the practice of medicine throws up many difficulties for individuals and for society and learn some frameworks for assessing ethical problems.Somehow all of this has to come together in the process of caring for individual patients. In this course the focus is more on individuals and what practitioners can do to support them through ill health.
Evidence informed practice/audit and evaluation
We reference and supply original scientific articles on topics such as PNI – both lab and epidemiological studies.
Multi-disciplinary collaboration, and professional communication
We emphasise the need to hear the patient’s story (with a particularly graphic video case of a man who was not listened to – delaying his diagnosis by 6 months). We include nutritional, exercise and mediation teaching as well as covering complementary medicine.
Contact details
Dr Trevor Thompson
Consultant Senior Lecturer
Academic Unit of Primary Health Care
University of Bristol
25 Belgrave Road
t: 0117 331 3819