Student BMJ comes of age
Announcing some exciting developments
It is 23 years since Student BMJ was launched—the age when most people leave medical school to start their life as a fully fledged doctor. This milestone coincides with a new chapter for Student BMJ that includes a range of improvements aimed at benefitting you, our readers. Let me share with you how we have arrived at a new, digital first Student BMJ that aims to guide and accompany you every step of your journey from applying to medical school through to fully trained junior doctor.
Since 1992, Student BMJ has been providing medical students with a mix of educational, journalistic content and careers advice, to prepare you for your future development as a doctor. We have also provided a platform for medical students to vent and share the travails of studying medicine. For me, Student BMJ is at its best when readers provide nuggets of practical information you simply can’t pick up from medical school or in textbooks, sharing what they’ve learnt—from both experience and mistakes. Our authors have aimed to capture and articulate aspects of the hidden curriculum: things you pick up only through experience or which are passed down by a colleague. Whether it’s about how to interpret chest radiographs, scrubbing up in surgery, responding to on-call emergencies, or practising suturing techniques on a banana—Student BMJ has provided answers to common medical student concerns.
Over its lifetime Student BMJ has developed a bank of collective knowledge that has a relevance and resonance for medical students year on year. So, where should we go next? Over the past 18 months I have been on a journey to learn what our readers really need and how we can be essential to their future. I have travelled around the United Kingdom and invited some of you to focus groups in our offices in London, as well as conducting online surveys to find out what hundreds of our readers really need by way of help to thrive in a medical career. In response to this research, here is an overview of some of the changes we are introducing.
As Student BMJ is in its early twenties, it is only right it has a website that reflects the needs and demands of the digital native. From July 2015 we are relaunching student.bmj.com as a mobile-responsive website, with content grouped into easy to find categories to reflect the major themes or milestones that resonate with readers. We now have dedicated sections for practical clinical skills, the foundation programme, and elective planning—to name just a few—that will help you quickly find important and relevant resources according to your specific stage or need. One major finding of our research was that our readers are short of time; no surprise there. But more importantly, many suffer on clinical placements because consultants tend to focus on the weird and wonderful, rather than the “bread and butter” clinical cases and skills you need to know. We have therefore established 12 specialty pages aimed at students preparing for ward placements, to give you an overview of that specialty before you start.
Another major theme for some of you was angst around stepping up to become a junior doctor. One student in Sheffield said that most students had their “eye on the prize,” but many students I spoke to said that many soon to be graduates simply don’t feel ready to make the next move. We have dealt with this with our “junior doctor survival kit” section and the series You’ve Been Bleeped, to prepare you for increased responsibilities and to help you with decision making in potentially stressful situations.
With the relaunch of student.bmj.com we are adding a new dimension to what we do, which is the section on applying to medical school. As most of our current readers have gained a place at medical school, we want to draw on this wealth of experience. This new section will include advice from successful applicants and admissions tutors, as well as our medical school selector (medschoolselector.student.bmj.com), that helps applicants match their predicted grades with the entry requirements of UK medical schools.
Back in the land of print, from September we welcome the new termly edition of Student BMJ, instead of the previous monthly edition. It will be a less frequent but weightier offering. We want it to act as your survival guide for the next three months. We will recap the major medical issues you ought to be up to scratch with as well as giving you resources to support you in important career decisions and preparation for upcoming assessments. In response to reader feedback, the new print edition will have a glossier cover and higher quality paper, which we hope will ensure it is something that graces your coffee table for repeated reference.
And finally, Student BMJ is going on the road. In October 2015 we will host our second Applying to Medicine event at the BMJ Careers fair. Last year we ran a pilot event and invited admissions tutors and medical students to explain and demystify the process of applying to medical school for prospective students. We received positive feedback from more than 200 delegates and this gave us the motivation to expand the free event to more than 400 delegates on 23 October this year at the Business and Design Centre in London. Added to this, we will run similar sessions at the NHS Scotland’s careers fair in Glasgow on 12 September.
You may face several challenges ahead—whether it is passing your finals, adjusting to changes in medical training posed by the Shape of Training review, or the prospect of seven day working. Through all of this we hope that Student BMJ will continue to be a trusted resource to support you all the way from thinking about applying to medical school, to passing your exams, and finally making the step up as a junior doctor. Our ultimate aim is to ensure that by the end of medical school you are not only competent but also a confident and happy doctor who can make a genuine difference in the lives of the patients under your care.
I am positive about the future of Student BMJ because I believe it will only get bigger and better. I hope you will join us in adding to its DNA—whether as a reader, author, reviewer, Student BMJ scholar, or just telling us what you think—so that we can continue to support those just one step behind. Please do continue to send any feedback on how best we can support you through your medical career by emailing firstname.lastname@example.orgMatthew Billingsley, editor, Student BMJ
Correspondence to: email@example.com
Competing interests: None declared.
Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.
Cite this as: BMJ 2015;23:h3385