The Parkinson’s Academy provides a structured training programme for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who want formal training in both the clinical and managerial aspects of running a ‘Parkinson’s service’.
Training is provided through Parkinson’s MasterClasses – an innovative educational programme established by the Movement Disorder Section of the British Geriatrics Society (BGS).
Currently there are two distinct MasterClass programmes for professionals wanting to advance their skills in Parkinson’s:
- Advanced MasterClass (previously the Classic) advances understanding of and confidence in running a Parkinson’s service for doctors and specialist nurses.
- Foundation MasterClass is specifically designed for those who are fairly new to Parkinson’s management like specialist registrars, newly appointed Parkinson’s nurses and pharmacists or therapists.
Additionally, we also run a series of regional roadshow MasterClasses for professionals who want to advance their skills in specific areas:
- Non-oral therapies
- Non-motor symptoms
- The Palliative Care Academy has been launched which is aimed at health professionals involved with Parkinson’s and dementia.
Course structure and learning
The Parkinson’s Academy MasterClasses started in 2002 in response to a real need for professional development opportunities that allowed professionals with an interest in Parkinson’s to come together not only to learn but to form a network across the UK.
There are now two MasterClasses a year which train a mix of professionals, defined by their experience and what they want to achieve. Training on the Foundation MasterClass course can be followed up by attending the more specialist Advanced MasterClass course at a later date.
What makes the Academy so different is the way we approach learning – we use a variety of techniques, including small-group learning with an emphasis on case-based learning and questions embedded within the sessions.
Course graduates are also invited to attend further development and training programmes in the form of roadshows or follow up conferences. The Advanced MasterClass, which is orientated towards those with an interest in service development, provides the opportunity for mentoring between the units so that delegates can work with the support of an experienced clinician.
Graduates are enrolled in the Masterclass Clinical Network, which has over 1500 clinicians with a special interest in Parkinson’s registered and regular opportunities for further Parkinson’s education through the regional networks.
What would I gain from attending the MasterClass?
After the residential course is over we see the benefits to delegates continue. Around 75% of those who have attended the MasterClass have gone on to develop a Parkinson’s service, many submitting business cases for Specialist Parkinson’s Nurses, which is an important step in establishing a good Parkinson’s service.
Graduates have also become highly active in other fora, which has created new learning and new opportunities. And is it incredibly rewarding for us to see graduates join the Academy as faculty and come back as highly skilled teachers to educate a new generation of MasterClass delegates.
It’s very hard to measure personal growth, but our delegates tell us that the Academy is invaluable for helping with personal development in their careers. A delegate who completed the MasterClass told us:
I would recommend participation in the MasterClass to anyone involved in Parkinson’s management. It was a source of motivation for the whole team as we all worked together and shared our educational experiences, it helped to keep us in contact with others nationwide, and encouraged us to progress as well as review our practice on a regular basis.
The Academy prides itself on the success of its graduates. Two previous delegates, Dr Neil Archibald and Dr Iracema Leroi tell us about the journeys they have taken with the Academy.
Dr Neil Archibald
Dr Neil Archibald is a consultant neurologist at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough who has progressed from being a delegate at the Academy to a member of the faculty. In his role as a teacher at the Academy Neil shares his experiences of setting up a service so that others can learn from the process he has been through.
In this video Neil explains how the Academy has been extremely helpful to him, both for building up his confidence in managing Parkinson’s and for taking the next step to develop a Parkinson’s service. As part of that Neil has put together an integrated care pathway for Parkinson’s to enable all professionals who deal with PD patients to have access to the right information and to work together in a more joined-up way.
Dr Iracema Leroi
Dr Iracema Leroi is a clinical senior lecturer and psychiatrist at the University of Manchester in the Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health. Iracema became involved with the Academy seven years ago as a delegate and is now a faculty member and faculty member.
She explains that the Academy has been invaluable to her as psychiatrist to develop her interest in the mental health aspects of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s. Not only has the Academy helped Iracema to shape her career interests, both on the research and clinical side, but the peer support and network has also helped her to become recognised in the field of Parkinson’s.