Life-saving University of Birmingham peer-led course expands nationally

Research has found that basic life support at least doubles the likelihood of survival from cardiac arrest. Resuscitation for Medical Disciplines (RMD) is a highly interactive peer-led course by the University of Birmingham that teaches basic life support and how to use an automated external defibrillator to healthcare students.

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Due to its longstanding reputation as a leader in life support peer education, the Universities of Manchester and Bristol have since been directed to RMD. As a result the RMD team have been helping these institutions develop their own programmes, and have run a training course for the School of Health Sciences at the University of Manchester to kick start its programme.

Current students and RMD alumni are also looking into running a similar course at the University of Bristol, and the University of Leeds has begun to collaborate with RMD to develop its own course. 

The team behind the course, which is led by Dr Jon Hulme and Dr Andy Owen, have presented more than 30 posters at international conferences and published over 15 research papers in peer-reviewed journals. RMD has inspired many students to go on become teachers themselves, expanding their own skills while training others to save lives. 

RMD is a perfect exemplar of research-led peer-to-peer teaching and pedagogic leadership development that has contributed to the University’s attainment of a Gold rating for educational excellence. The European Resuscitation Council has also cited the course as the model for training large numbers of students in teaching institutions. 

The RMD course has since grown and been adapted by the team, including teaching thousands of schoolchildren per year how to perform lifesaving skills as well as undertaking research into lifesaving skills and teaching techniques.

One student who has taken part in the RMD course at the University of Birmingham said: 

“As a 4th year medical student, being a member of the Resuscitation for Medical Disciplines has been one of the most enjoyable elements of my university experience. From the very first time I was taught basic life support in our peer-led, structured course I was fully engaged, and I went on to become an instructor.

“Being on the committee has given me further opportunities, which have been extremely valuable. The experience has allowed me to be part of a student-led group helping to organise a highly respected course, given me the opportunity to get involved in research, allowed contribution to organising and running public outreach events, and being involved in spreading RMD further by travelling to Manchester to help set up its brilliant venture. 

“It is amazing to think what the RMD course has achieved over the past 21 years, and I am proud to be part of it. Every single person who has been taught could go on to make a difference to someone's life, and that truly is something amazing.” 

What does the future hold for the RMD course? The team are going to continue what they are doing but on a larger scale, teaching more schoolchildren, more communities and more event staff, and helping other institutions launch their own highly successful programmes.

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