Developing a national consensus for teaching Social Prescribing within UK medical schools


The Social Prescribing Student Champion Scheme (1) has delivered a total of 68 informal peer-assisted learning teaching sessions on Social Prescribing (SP) across 25 UK medical schools during 2017-2018.

Academics from several medical schools have expressed their desire to integrate SP formally as part of their UG/PG curriculums. Data acquired by student champions suggests that a large number of medical schools were already involved in teaching certain aspects of SP, without directly referring to SP definitions and key principles. Furthermore, the new outcomes for graduates published by the General Medical Council (GMC) (2) emphasise the need to apply social science principles as well as health promotion, patient empowerment, and shared decision making.

As the gap in teaching is being filled and most medical schools are embracing the biopsychosocial model, it is key to ensure high quality teaching for the next generation of clinicians and healthcare professionals.

On the 18th of September 2018 we hosted a national stakeholder's meeting, at the University of Westminster, to develop a national consensus for teaching Social Prescribing within UG and PG medical school curriculums. The meeting brought together a wide range of individuals, including representatives from NHS England, RCGP, Bromley by Bow Centre, the College of Medicine, medical schools, medical students, and many other key stakeholders submitting their opinions in writing. The discussion focused on five main themes which were previously highlighted by 493 students representing 27 different medical schools who took part in our surveys and focus groups. We considered the following questions:

What is the most appropriate timing for teaching SP within the curriculum? (e.g. pre-clinical/clinical/combination of both)

What is the most appropriate delivery method to structure teaching on the subject? (e.g. lecture, workshop, student selected component, placement etc.)

What is the most appropriate style of teaching this subject? (e.g. peer-teaching, clinical or hands-on experience, showcasing real examples from the community etc.)

What should be the core content and main emphasis on during these teaching sessions?

Should students be assessed on these topics? If yes, how?

We hope that the final report will complement the current outcomes for graduates set by the GMC (2) and provide flexible recommendations which could be implemented by medical schools across the UK. Thus, the students of today, and future doctors of tomorrow will be equipped with the necessary tools to deliver high quality care for all.

1. Chiva Giurca, B. (2018). Social prescribing student champion scheme: a novel peer-assisted-learning approach to teaching social prescribing and social determinants of health. Education for Primary Care Journal, 1-3.

2. General Medical Council (2018): Outcomes for Graduates. Available at:; Accessed: 20/08/18

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Wednesday, 22 May 2024
Royal College of Medicine

5th International Social Prescribing Conference

19th & 20th June 2024