Can we ‘teach’ students to be resilient? Let’s try!

Penny List


In 2018 the Medical School launched its revised and refreshed curriculum. Within this, we wanted to include an interactive session for all Year 1 MBChB students combining study skills advice and discussion around resilience. We aimed to provide the students with a toolkit of study methods and to encourage them to face potential difficulties with a positive approach. Potentially, this could be beneficial for students across a range of courses.

Initially, we created a 1-hour session timetabled for the Friday of the first week. Staff from the Medical School’s Student Welfare team and academic staff collaborated to design and deliver the session. For pragmatic reasons, we decided to deliver the session in a lecture theatre to the whole cohort. To encourage as much student input as possible, we structured the resilience element around a series of questions for the students to think about and, hopefully, to answer aloud.
The first time we delivered the session, in September 2018, it appeared to go down well with the students. Many of them willingly contributed to the discussion and some of their answers showed great thoughtfulness. Due to the students’ enthusiastic input, it transpired that an hour was not really long enough. When we delivered the session again, in September 2019, we scheduled 1.5 hours for the session and we were still tight for time. Once more, many students contributed and gave very thoughtful answers.

During the second run of the session, we identified that there was some repetition within the resilience element and we intend to amend this part of the session ready for September 2020. To conclude, it seems that the students enjoy this session and are very willing to engage in it. A future step will be to evaluate the session’s impact on their study skills and resilience.