Reared in Belfast, I studied in Oxford and London from where I graduated with a degree of uncertainty about the completeness of the "biomedical" model. After finishing my vocational training in General Practice I went to work at the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital and in 1998 fluked a prestigious academic fellowship in the University of Glasgow. I came to Bristol in 2000 and worked as a prison doctor before taking up a post as Clinical Lecturer. My first love is clinical medicine but I also enjoy the intellectual challenge of research and the communication of ideas as a lecturer. As an educationalist my motto is “learning is fun” and I try to use different media in finding ways of engaging hearts and minds. Having completed a PhD in 2005 I am focusing now mainly on education and am co-Director of the Medical Humanities intercalation programme. I have recently become a full partner at Wellspring Surgery in Bristol’s Barton Hill district. This multi-cultural practice is set within an innovative “Healthy Living Centre” where we strive to practice integrative medicine. In 2011 much of my energy has gone on a book entitled “Sustainable Healthcare” which explores the part medicine can play in easing our current environmental ills. One unfulfilled ambition is to design two magnificent and ecologically awesome houses – one in Cornwall and one in France – between which I would seasonally commute by yacht. I am blessed with four exuberant children and a very nice wife.
Most people acknowledge medicine to be both an Art and a Science, but it is not a straightforward task to articulate the Art of Medicine in an authentic and credible fashion. My main work as a teacher in the UoB Medical School has been to create, develop, deliver and extend the “Medical Humanities and Whole Person Care” (WPC) vertical theme which is now an established part of the Bristol medical educational landscape. In my time at Bristo I have gathered extensive academic experience with the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry including Element Lead (Whole Person Care), Unit Lead (Human Basis of Medicine), Vertical Themes Lead (MB ChB) and Programme Lead (intercalated BA in Medical Humanities). I have done this through core and SSC (self-selected component) teaching that has drawn on disparate fields including the creative arts, the medical humanities, systems thinking and complementary medicine. This work is recognised within the university as evidenced by my award of the Teaching and Learning Prize (2008) and nomination for a National Teaching Fellowship (2008) and nationally through speaker invitations, and through the recent award of the College of Medicine Prize for Educational Innovation. The theme of innovation runs strongly through my work. With colleague I have developed our intercalated BA in Medical Humanities, and of our remarkable and recently upgraded website www.outofourheads.net . This featured in March 2012 at the Karolinska Institute's (Stockholm) annual Educational Congress. Through these, hundreds of students have been exposed to the rounding and liberalising influence of the Arts. This work has led to independent scholarly publications in medline-listed journals. In addition to my work in the humanities I have provided a safe and sane interface with complementary medicine, again through core and SSC courses which I have designed, delivered, assessed, evaluated and written up for peer-reviewed publication. Again on the theme of holism, I am the first Bristol medical educationalist to take active steps to integrate issues of sustainability into both the core and SSC curriculum. I am now working as clinical co-lead of the national Sustainability Healthcare Education Network to advise the GMC on the integration of sustainability considerations into the next iteration of Tomorrow’s Doctors and Good Medical Practice. As well as developing the Whole Person Care theme in particular, I have resurrected the vertical themes more generally, giving them a substantially enhanced profile within the curriculum through my chairmanship of the medical school’s vertical themes committee. In addition to these innovations of content I have been responsible for numerous innovative teaching methods including demonstrations, debates, video-links, patient talks and drama in the lecture theatre). All these are means for the dissemination of conceptual and complex ideas. The above has been achieved on a 50%WTE contract.
My research interests are centred around my PhD, which is entitled "Homeopathy: players, process and outcome". This is a qualitative exploration of what I term the "popularity paradox" - the fact that homeopathy is increasingly popular despite inconclusive clinical evidence in support of it. Pursing this I have sought to understand the narratives of doctor practitioners of homeopathy, the process of homeopathic care and the ways in which homeopathy has traditionally been researched. Aside from homeopathic medicine I am interested in therapeutic consultation, unpacking the placebo effect and CAM in general. I am interested particularly in the models we create of health and healing and how these determine and constrain our therapeutic approaches.
View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system
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