Professional Development And Education

Generating expertise in the area of colorectal diseases is largely a wasted exercise unless that knowledge and technical ability can be passed on to postgraduate and undergraduate medical, nursing and paramedical staff working and training in the Unit. Likewise, it is important to disseminate knowledge and skills throughout the wider medical audience, so that standards of clinical care rise uniformly throughout the entire profession. We therefore maintain a strong educational component to our practice, recognising that high-quality care depends on a steadily evolving and comprehensive teaching programme. As with research activities, these evidence based programmes tend to attract motivated staff committed to continuing professional development and education. Effective education, allied to critical audit, also ensures that new treatments and technologies are assessed and incorporated into the clinical practice of senior and junior medical staff alike.

Many of our day to day in-house clinical educational commitments are naturally allied to the Centre for Colorectal Disease. However, we aim to rationalise our external professional teaching activities under the umbrella of The Foundation. This will allow our physicians, surgeons, pathologists and oncologists to present cohesive information on a broad range of colorectal diseases to regional, national and international audiences in a seamless manner.

Although undergraduate and postgraduate medical education form a central component of the Centre, wider education of the non-medical population is also seen as a crucial role. The Irish population has, until recently, sought little information on disease prevention or modification, perceiving that nearly every aspect of their health was in the hands of the medical profession. Nevertheless, cardiovascular, respiratory and infectious diseases, and lung, breast and ovarian cancers have all been the subject of effective public information campaigns, resulting in population health benefits. In contrast, because of public embarrassment, colorectal cancer is rarely discussed outside the medical press, despite being the commonest internal cancer in the Irish population.

It is therefore not surprising that it has been dubbed a “silent” killer, not because of any lack of symptoms, but because self-concious patients often remain silent about their symptoms until they become so debilitating that their embarrassment at consulting a doctor is eventually outweighed by the severity of their symptoms.