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The Medical Education Unit aims to conduct high-impact translational research, shaping policy and practice in medical (and other health professions) education and training, and on to continuing professional development. Here you will learn about the Medical Education Unit's research groups and projects we are currently working on:

  • Workplace Learning and Professional identity development
  • Student Engagement, experience and wellbeing
  • Health communication
  • Innovations in Health Professions Education

Workplace Learning and Professional Identity Development

This research group is principally focused on investigating medical students and doctors-in-training learning in clinical environments. Projects include studies of transitions in clinical education, preparedness for practice, development of professional identity, measurement of clinical learning environments, and the design and evaluation of workplace learning and teaching experiences. This group conducts mixed methods research and has expertise in qualitative methodologies including thematic analysis, phenomenology, constructivist grounded theory and critical discourse analysis. The MEU recently led a HRB / Medical Council funded project where the objective was to provide evidence-based guidance to the Medical Council and other relevant stakeholders to enhance doctors' engagement with regulation of professional competence.  

Research group members: Deirdre BennettNiamh CoakleyIrina Korotchikova, Colm O’TuathaighCatherine SweeneyAnel Wiese  

Sample publications

How to…analyse qualitative data in different ways. Bennett D, Barrett A, Helmich E. Clin Teach. 2019 Feb;16(1):7-12. doi: 10.1111/tct.12973 

'Waiting in the wings'; Lived experience at the threshold of clinical practice. Coakley N, O'Leary P, Bennett D. Med Educ. 2019 Jul;53(7):698-709. doi: 10.1111/medu.13899

Experience Based Learning (ExBL): Clinical teaching for the twenty-first century. Dornan T, Conn R, Monaghan H, Kearney G, Gillespie H, Bennett D. Med Teach. 2019 Oct;41(10):1098-1105. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2019.1630730

Doctors' attitudes to, beliefs about, and experiences of the regulation of professional competence: a scoping review protocol. Wiese A, Galvin E, Merrett C, Korotchikova I, Slattery D, Prihodova L, Hoey H, O'Shaughnessy A, Cotter J, O'Farrell J, Horgan M, Bennett D.. Syst Rev. 2019 Aug 22;8(1):213. doi: 10.1186/s13643-019-1132-3 

Funding: Health Research Board of Ireland, Association for the Study of Medical Education, Irish Network of Healthcare Educators, National Doctors Training and Planning

Internal & External Collaborators: Queen’s University Belfast, NUI Galway, Maastricht University, University of Calgary, University of Groningen Medical Centre, Medical Council, National Doctors Training and Planning, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Southern Intern Training Network.

We welcome applications from students interested in pursuing PhD or MD studies in this area, contact Dr Deirdre Bennett for further information.

Student Engagement, Experience and Wellbeing

This research group undertakes research into the health professions student’s experience at various stages of their professional practice journey. Projects include the study of medical student resilience and wellbeing, research on inter-professional education in undergraduate medical education, the development of clinical empathy, and determinants and outcomes of undergraduate research engagement.  

Research group membersDeirdre BennettNiamh CoakleyEileen DugganRobert GaffneyHelen HynesAislinn JoyMargaret O’RourkeColm O’TuathaighSimon Smith  

Sample publications

Strategies for enhancing resilience in medical students: a group concept mapping analysis. Donohoe J, O'Rourke M, Hammond S, Stoyanov S, O'Tuathaigh C. Acad Psychiatry. 2020 Mar 2.  doi: 10.1007/s40596-020-01208-x 

Cross-professional education on a simulated ward. Sweeney C, Hynes H, Gaffney R, Henn P, Smith S. Clin Teach. 2017 Aug;14(4):295-297. doi: 10.1111/tct.12617 

Convergence and translation: attitudes to inter-professional learning and teaching of creative problem-solving among medical and engineering students and staff. Spoelstra H, Stoyanov S, Burgoyne L, Bennett D, Sweeney C, Drachsler H, Vanderperren K, Van Huffel S, McSweeney J, Shorten G, O'Flynn S, Cantillon-Murphy P, O'Tuathaigh C. BMC Med Educ. 2014 Jan 22;14:14.  doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-14-14  

Funding: Irish Network of Healthcare Educators (INHED), EU Erasmus + Programme  

Internal & External Collaborators: UCC ASSERT Centre, UCC School of Applied Psychology, Centro Universitário Saúde ABCUniversité Catholique de LouvainUniversity of Minho 

Health Communication

The Health communication group investigates healthcare provider-patient interactions, inter-professional communication, relationship between quality of health communication and patient safety, the contribution of health communication to reinforcement or resolution of health inequities, and approaches to teaching communication skills in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education.  

Research group membersDeirdre BennettTom HinchyColm O’TuathaighSimon SmithCatherine Sweeney  

Sample publications 

CMP. Age-related hearing loss and provider-patient communication across primary and secondary care settings: a cross-sectional study. Smith S, Manan NSIA, Toner S, Al Refaie A, Müller N, Henn P, O'Tuathaigh  Age Ageing. 2020 Apr 7:afaa041. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afaa041 

Age-related hearing loss and communication breakdown in the clinical setting. Cudmore V, Henn P, O'Tuathaigh CMP, Smith S. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017 Oct 1;143(10):1054-1055doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2017.1248 

Hearing impairment and the amelioration of avoidable medical error: a cross-sectional survey. Henn P, OʼTuathaigh C, Keegan D, Smith S. J Patient Saf. 2017 Feb 16. doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000298  

Keeping it real: Exploring an interdisciplinary breaking bad news role-play as an integrative learning opportunity. Sweeney C, O'Sullivan E, McCarthy M.  J Scholarship Teach Learn. 2015; 15 (2):14-32doi: 10.14434/josotl.v15i2.13262  

Funding: Skellig Centre for Research and Innovation, UCC Medical Research Supplement Award  

Internal & External Collaborators: UCC ASSERT Centre, UCC Department of Speech and hearing Sciences, UCC Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching and LearningCentro Universitário Saúde ABC 

Innovations in Health Professions Education

This theme is focused on curricular innovations in undergraduate or postgraduate medical curricula. Project areas include research into use of simulation and technology-enhanced learning in healthcare education, peer-assisted learning, student selected components, and educational innovations in the preclinical medical curriculum.  

Research group membersDeirdre BennettEileen Duggan, Robert Gaffney, Helen HynesMark James, Aislinn JoyNora McCarthy, Fiona Quinn, Simon Smith  

Sample publications

Designing learning outcomes for handoff teaching of medical students using group concept mapping: findings from a multicountry European study. Hynes H, Stoyanov S, Drachsler H, Maher B, Orrego C, Stieger L, Druener S, Sopka S, Schröder H, Henn P. Acad Med. 2015 Jul;90(7):988-94. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000642 

Situating integrative learning in medical education through a communities of practice lens. Joy A, Ryan A. In: Daniel Blackshields, James Cronin, Bettie Higgs, Shane Kilcommins, Marian McCarthy, Anthony Ryan (eds). Integrative Learning: International Research & Practice. 2014. London, UK: Routledge 

The impact of a medical undergraduate student-selected module in palliative care. Sweeney C, Lynch G, Khashan A, Maher B, Murphy M, O’Brien T. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2014;4(1). doi: 10.1136/bmjspcare-2012-000283 

Evaluation of the educational impact of a special study module on maritime medicine for medical undergraduate students. McCarthy N, O'Flynn S, Murphy J, Barry D, Canals ML. Int Marit Health. 2013;64(4):195-201. doi: 10.5603/imh.2013.0004  

Funding: Irish Network of Healthcare Educators (INHED), EU Erasmus + Programme 

Internal & External Collaborators: UCC ASSERT Centre, UCC Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University of Limerick Graduate Entry Medical School, UCC Department of General Practice, Open Universiteit Nederland.

Postgraduate Opportunities

For further information on Postgraduate opportunities within the Research groups, please contact Dr Deirdre BennettDr Colm O Tuathaigh or Dr Catherine Sweeeney

Medical Education Unit

Room 2.59, Brookfield Health Science Complex College Road Cork, T12 AK54