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Furthering your education online

Dr Amir Lakha gained an MSc in pain management through online learning.

My interest in pain management was triggered by a chance factor.

There was much adverse publicity last year about NSAIDs and, consequently, some of my patients who had benefited tremendously from the drugs had to come off them, to the detriment of their health and quality of life.

It was difficult to relieve their pain at times, so I was keen to acquire a more in-depth knowledge of pain management. Then I saw an advertisement for an online course in pain management at the University of Edinburgh.

This course suited me because it meant I could study at flexible times and didn't have to spend time travelling. I could continue to run a busy practice and learn more about pain management while simultaneously acquiring an MSc degree.

I applied immediately and never looked back.

The course I did was an MSc in pain management, which is a part-time, two-year programme.

I further realised that by achieving this particular qualification, I could become a GP with a special interest (GPSI).

The programme is a collaborative venture between the University of Edinburgh and the University of Sydney, in Australia, where it has been running for many years.

I found e-learning easy to pick up. It only requires a basic knowledge of IT and access to the internet.

The course is flexible and studies can be carried out at the student's convenience. It will also count towards the personal development plan.

Waiting lists for pain clinics can be very long, so this type of education is invaluable. As a result, your primary care organisation might also be willing to offer some sponsorship for your participation.

Study time

It is recommended that students spend around 15 hours studying a week, depending on their capabilities.

The course is aimed at a variety of healthcare professionals involved in treating pain.

Current participants on the course include GPs, physiotherapists, nurses, dentists and occupational therapists.

Students can log on to the course website and gain access to modules, core readings, discussion areas, details of the assignments and many more facilities. They can hold discussions on current topics and make contributions to share their knowledge with other students by posting messages.

Students can use the facilities at any time, from anywhere in the world, provided they have the log-in passwords.

The tutors are available to answer any queries online, that may arise, whether it is in connection with a particular topic or if it is to do with the technical aspects of online learning.

The course is ingeniously designed to warrant personal reading, participation in discussions and also regular submission of set assignments, which leads to a vast knowledge in the field of pain management.

I was hoping to acquire a thorough understanding of the topic to help in my work as a GP - the course more than met my expectations.

- Dr Lakha is a GP in Waltham Abbey, Essex

COURSE BASICS
Course: MSc Programme in Pain Management at University of Edinburgh.
Cost of course: circa £5,000.
Contact: www.mvm.ed.ac.uk/ painmasters/

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