CURRICULUM MODIFICATIONS FOR TEACHING PARASITOLOGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES IN A BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE DEGREE
, M. Ioannou1
, M.C. Lobo-Bedmar2
, S. Fenoy3
1Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, De Montfort University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2IMIDRA, Departamento de Investigación Agroambiental (SPAIN)
3Universidad San Pablo CEU, Facultad de Farmacia (SPAIN)
Recent outbreaks threatening public health involving contaminated water or food with different microorganisms such as Escherichia coli or Cyclospora spp. in Europe as well as the 2014-16 Ebola crisis in West Africa have highlighted the relevance of teaching parasitology and infectious diseases to future biomedical scientists. The BSc Biomedical Science (BMS) programme at De Montfort University (DMU, Leicester, UK) is accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS). However, the dedicated time to study these topics was very little, limited to two 15 credit modules focused on general and basic medical microbiology. A series of important modifications have been undertaken since 2016 to ensure that our graduates receive comprehensive knowledge in parasitology/infectious diseases following the subject-specific threshold standards described by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA, 2015). New lectures in these topics (virus, fungi, helminths, infectious diseases) were incorporated in our Basic Microbiology level 4 module after expanding this to 30 credits in the academic course 2016/17. Highly specialised training related with emerging parasites (e.g. Cyclospora, microsporidia) and haemorrhagic fever virus (e.g. Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever virus) was introduced in our level 6 Medical Microbiology module (15 credits), based on a successful novel teaching experience created by first responders to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Validated feedback questionnaires to assess the training were collected as well as final module level feedback (MLF) for each module through Blackboard. Students have highlighted high levels of engagement in both modules, specifically in the training provided in Medical Microbiology (n=121). Thus, some students have highlighted in the MLF that the case studies (e.g. related with free-living amoebas and Cyclospora spp.) “improved my understanding” and were “engaging”. The specific questionnaire has highlighted that 77.5% of final year students enjoyed the novel workshop created to respond to an outbreak of infection affecting the UK following evidence-based public health methodology. However, the module that has shown more improvement in the students’ satisfaction was Basic Microbiology (n=196), which showed a significant increase from 20% in the 2015/16 academic year to 64% in the current academic session. The MLF of Basic Microbiology has also reported the following results: 95% (41% definitely agree, 54% agree) of students have highlighted that this first year module provided them with opportunities to apply what they learnt; and 94% considered that the feedback provided was clear and fair. Despite these results should be considered as preliminary, we consider that the initial changes undertaken in the BMS programme at DMU to date could improve students’ understanding of emerging diseases, specifically about how to study and prevent emerging infectious diseases to protect public health. Future proposed improvements include the development of a complete e-learning package for students and academics for teaching these topics in collaboration with Universities from Spain and practising Biomedical Scientists from the National Health Service. These resources will be accessible throughout 2017/18.