Changing the conversation about health

Our Foundation course: a review

Claire Gaskin is a clinical hynotherapist and an attendee of our first Foundation Course. Here she describes what she learned and the plans for collaboration that are now underway.

(We are planning a second course in 2017: if you are interested in hearing more, sign up for our newsletter to the right, to get details when we have a time and date.)

It’s 7.34 and I’m standing next to a ticket machine on a dark November morning in Essex, hoping that I’ve remembered my new pin number correctly because the train is due in three minutes. Success! The machine whirrs into life, spits out my tickets, and then I am on my way to the ‘Foundation Course in Integrated Medicine’ at the College of Medicine.

I’m not sure what to expect. It’s the first one. The group will comprise of medical clinicians and complementary healthcare practitioners, like me. I’m looking forward to gaining new knowledge and skills to improve my practice, as well as avenues to explore in how we might all work better, together.

On arrival the atmosphere is immediately warm and welcoming, and it’s soon clear that this diverse group of individuals are united by the same aims.

For two days we are treated to enlightening presentations on a range of topics, including Holistic Medicine, Therapeutic Bodywork, and Social Prescribing (Dr Michael Dixon and Prof. David Peters), Herbal Medicine (Simon Mills), Clinical Hypnotherapy (Trevor Hoskisson), Psychosensory Techniques and Principles (Kevin Laye) and Western Medical Acupuncture (Dr Mike Cummings).

All the presenters are inspirational leaders in their field and hold the attention of the audience. At times, we are invited to participate in practical demonstrations so that we can gain hands-on experience of some of the techniques. This interactive approach elevates the learning experience and ensures that the group gels well over lunch, too.

Throughout, the content and delivery was guided by the extensive experience of the lead lecturers, Dr Michael Dixon and Professor David Peters, who made the case for an integrated approach to health and care, ending with an exercise about how those in attendance might begin to integrate non-conventional treatment options into their everyday clinical practice.

The foundation course exceeded my expectations and fired-up my hopes and plans for the future. I’ve made new friends, and ideas for collaboration are already underway. I would not hesitate to say to all medical clinicians and complementary healthcare practitioners: get involved, join the College of Medicine and sign up for the next course. It’s a must for innovators and naysayers alike.

If all of that is not enough to convince you, I can tell you that the College pays as much attention to its social events as it does its courses, thanks to the skill of the chief officer, Amanda King, who organises both. The evening entertainment saw accomplished actor Stephen McGann (‘Call the Midwife’) give an emotive and thought-provoking presentation on the accuracy and authenticity of portraying a medic in a TV drama.

Just a couple of weeks later, the College hosted the acclaimed stage show ‘Dial Medicine for Murder’, written and delivered by Dr Harry Brunjes and Dr Andrew Johns, who expertly explored the pathological minds of two of the most notorious British physicians of the 20th century, Dr Harold Shipman and Dr John Bodkin Adams. Could it ever happen again? Possibly. Certainly, a chilling thought to occupy my mind on the late train back to Essex.

Claire Gaskin is a registered clinical hypnotherapist and practitioner. You can find her online at