The current trend towards distance learning is attracting doctors at an ever-increasing rate as time to study for royal college exams decreases under a heavy NHS Hospital workload. The working hours limit introduced in the European Working Time Directive has meant that hospitals are less keen for doctors to spend time offsite for study leave.
Many doctors would traditionally take a week off to attend an exam revision course but the pace of life for a junior doctor around the time they are preparing for exams is often too hectic. Taking time away from the hospital, even for a short period of study, can become very stressful.
A senior manager of a hospital Academic Centre, said: "There are practical difficulties for many doctors to arrange locum cover when they are away on study leave. Study leave funding is limited and most lecture courses are costly and time consuming.
Leaving your study for one week quite close to the exam time can be quite mind-boggling. Better to do a bit each day in the months leading up to the exam.
"Online, self-paced study allows doctors the flexibility to study in short effective bursts. Online courses with interactive content, streaming video lectures, exercises and on-demand help provide students with the study resources when they are ready to learn - not when the teacher is ready to teach.
He added, "Online videos go hand in hand with exam quizzes where students can track their score until they attain an ?exam-ready? level."
Sabine Guerry, CEO of 123Doc Medical Courses (http://www.123doc.com/), an online medical revision service reports, ?This time last year many doctors were happy to attend an off-site course before the exam. Their study leave money normally covered this and they were expected to gain approval for time off. Now we have well over 2000 junior doctors coming to our site every day looking for better ways to revise for their exams in the small windows of time they have available for study. Demand for in-depth reference material online has meant a huge investment for us in archival content. Over 2000 pages of in-depth study material from the leading medical books and 3 years of medical journals is now online and needs to be constantly updated?.
"In the longer term, the whole of the NHS will see significant cost savings and greater equity of access to exam training for doctors. Doctors will be able to study efficiently for their exams online giving them greater control and flexibility over their study time," Richard Osborn, Knowledge & Library Services Manager, NHS North West.
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