Students 'Walk In The Shoes' Of Patients By Wearing Skin Cancer Tattoos

Medical students in Belfast have been allowed to 'walk in the shoes' of patients by wearing skin cancer tattoos.

A new research study by Queen's University Belfast suggests that the technique may better prepare them as future doctors.

The research explored how tattoos might influence a medical student's personal understanding of a malignant melanoma diagnosis, enabling them to experience some of the challenges that patients living with skin cancer can face to develop greater empathy for their future patients. Students were encouraged to wear a highly realistic temporary tattoo of a malignant melanoma before listening to an audio account of a patient sharing their experience of what it was like to discover a melanoma.
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Melanoma or skin cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, claiming over 2,500 lives every year. Over 15,000 patients will be diagnosed with melanoma cancer every year, a diagnosis that can be daunting for patients and their loved ones.

Dr Gerry Gormley, lead researcher and senior lecturer at Queen's University explained: "The experience had a profound and positive impact on our students. Beyond the clinical diagnosis it encouraged them to consider the person behind the illness, enabling them to develop greater empathy which will stand them in good stead as future clinicians and healthcare providers.

"Experiential learning is important in training doctors to be fully prepared for future eventualities, an approach that could be rolled out wider to benefit doctors and patients alike."

The study, also in collaboration with researchers from the University of Huddersfield and University College Dublin, has been published in the British Journal of Dermatology.


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