Welcome to our international newsletter, keeping you up to date with College activities around the world.


August 2019

From the International Director

Dear colleagues,

As I write this introduction to what is my last international newsletter, I am torn between my sadness at demitting from the post of International Director, and my delight and humility at the number of you who voted for me to take up the role of College Vice President for England and Wales, which is a huge privilege.

I look back over my time as International Director as a steep learning curve, but I hope that you will feel that the College now has a greater international profile, and is better at serving the needs of our international Fellows and Members. The College now has a structure in place with the International Executive Team and International Operational Group, who are tasked with delivering the College’s international strategy. I hope that this emphasises just how important our international work and profile are to the College, not to mention our international Fellows and Members.

I am particularly grateful to the College’s President, Professor Derek Bell, and our Chief Executive, Elaine Tait, who have provided tireless guidance to me through various challenges. There are too many others involved to thank them all, and this reflects the huge commitment from so many both within the College and further afield, who have contributed so much to what I hope will prove to be a successful legacy for my successor.

With regard to my own personal highlights in the role, I have met many colleagues and new friends across the world, from Malaysia, India and Pakistan to Jordan and New Brunswick in the USA, to name just some. In particular I think of our fantastic collaboration with Peerless Hospital in Kolkata; the development of the College’s work in Pakistan; the Johor Barhu collaborative symposium; our extensive work in Jordan (including under Royal patronage!); my continued work with Federation as an international examiner; meeting the Brian Chapman Scholarship winners and Mrs Chapman; the expansion of the MTI and IMTF program and meeting many MTIs including those in our own hospital; and last, but by no means least, the ongoing collaboration in Malawi and Zambia led by T Falconer and Albert McNeil.

And while I am moving to a new role in the College I hope to continue to feed into the international work and to meet many of you in the future, be it at a roll signing, a research lecture or contributing to college symposia.

Prof Sunil Bhandari, International Director, August 2019

From the President

I am delighted to have visited Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Bangladesh and Iraq in recent months and to have met many of our international Fellows and Members.

The College has called for nominations for the position of President and also for the role of Vice President (International). Encouragingly, we have already had a large number of Fellows declare an interest or apply for the vacancies. I would like to take this opportunity to remind all Fellows and Members that our policy and procedures do not support canvassing but please make sure you get involved and use your vote.

During a busy time at the College, much is also going on in the world of politics. In the UK, we await the outcomes from the on-going Brexit machinations and unrest continues in many countries. The impact of climate change is becoming ever more evident and the College is seeking to join the Planetary Health Alliance as well as develop work on planetary health collaboratively with the University of Edinburgh and other groups. Please keep the College up to date with any events or concerns that you have locally by emailing me directly.

Professor Derek Bell OBE, President


Overseas activities

One of the roles of Dr Albert McNeill, Tutor for Overseas Development, is to develop a database of Fellows and Members (including those who are retired) who wish to volunteer for short or longer-term attachments in “low income” countries.

The College is currently focused on several countries, including:

  • Malawi (Nkhoma Hospital)
  • Zambia (Lusaka Apex Medical University (LAMU))
  • Pakistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Nepal

We are planning to pilot a hypertension screening project in some of the health centres associated with Nkhoma Hospital in Malawi, and some Fellows have already expressed interest in helping develop this, in addition to protocols tailored to local management of non-communicable diseases.

Teaching faculty members are required to augment the staff at LAMU.

We are already developing collaborative symposia in Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, delivering teaching related to the PACES exam. We will be seeking future assistance from Fellows to expand our work in these countries.

Any fellows or members who want to undertake teaching, protocol development or clinical attachments in these areas, or to discuss any of these activities, should contact Andy Chapman.

Edinburgh International Course in Medicine of the Older Adult 2019

2019 was another successful year for the Edinburgh International Course in Medicine of the Older Adult, with 99 delegates from across the world attending from more than twenty different countries.

After the success of 2018, the event focussed on the ‘geriatric giants’ – with one day dedicated to each of mobility, cognition, continence, common comorbidities and frailty. Experts delivered a mixture of update lectures and interactive-case based discussions throughout the week. For a flavour of the course see our video here.

The Brian Chapman Scholarship was awarded to Dr Ramesh Kandel from Nepal and Dr Han Win Htun from Myanmar. The scholarship is awarded each year to candidates from a DfID priority country to enable them to attend the course.

The course featured an attractive social programme, including a welcome reception and tour of the historic College buildings; a guided bus tour through Edinburgh’s medical history and a course dinner. In addition to the social programme, two half-days allowed delegates to explore the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

The 2020 course will take place from Monday 18 May – Friday 22 May 2020. The programme is currently under development and will be added to our Events Calendar in the near future. Delegates can attend either the full course or individual days only. For further information please contact Josiane Kirk.

Free educational resources for College Fellows & Members

Don't forget to access our Education Portal which includes access to recorded lectures from our EMUs and Symposia. Our latest content includes updates on: Abdominal Pain, Palliative Care and Poisoning, and remember our annual Updates on Acute Medicine Symposia.

Quality Governance Fellowship

The College’s Quality Governance Collaborative Fellowship Course is still open for applications, and international Fellows and Members are encouraged to apply. The aim of the programme is to develop future leaders in governance and quality, equipped with the authority and ability to advance change in their organisations and beyond. This will in turn help to spread excellence, and in keeping with the College’s aim, contribute to achieving the gold standard in healthcare. Applications for this course should be submitted by 5pm on Monday 9 September 2019.

News from Around the World

Malaysia - A Report on the April Regional Conference, NUMed Malaysia Campus Johor Bahru

This conference, jointly organised with and the College of Physicians Academy of Medicine of Malaysia and Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia, represented a new milestone for the College in terms of our collaborative work. The three-day programme was a great success and incorporated lectures and workshops around Acute Medicine, with over 200 delegates attending. President Professor Derek Bell also combined this event in Malaysia with a brief visit to Singapore where, supported by locally based Fellows, he visited two hospitals and attended a clinical network event discussing Acute Medicine.

Bangladesh - Acute Medicine and Geriatrics sub-specialities in Bangladesh

The College President, in his recent President’s Messages, has noted his recent visit to Bangladesh. Currently the College is hoping to support our partners in Bangladesh in developing Acute Medicine and Geriatrics as new sub-specialties, as well as progressing other partnership working. For example, looking at contributing to clinical skills training meetings, and looking at promoting our international training schemes.


Iraq – College Visit

The College also had representatives in Iraq building on extensive work by Nigel and Deborah Bax from Sheffield University, both FRCPE, over the last decade. As with many of our visits, there is a strong emotional and historical tie to the country and a desire for the College to be more visible.

Like many countries, Iraq has faced difficult times and doctors and other health care professionals are working hard to improve their health system and engage more broadly with the health challenges locally and globally.

While in Iraq, Professor Derek Bell met with the Ministers for Health and Education as well as other leaders and Fellows. Edinburgh has a long association with Iraq and the College of Medicine at the University of Baghdad, for example through Sir Harry Sinderson. In the 1920s Sinderson, a physician educated at the University of Edinburgh, played a significant role in the development of health and medical education in modern Iraq.

Medical Training Initiative

Reflections on MTI training from Dr Lin Sanda Hlaing, International clinical fellow in Acute and General Medicine, Royal Bournemouth Hospital

Dr Hlaing is a former MTI trainee, who worked as an International Clinical Fellow in Acute and General Medicine at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital. Having finished two years in this role, Dr Hlaing offers her reflections:

“I accepted the role at the Royal Bournemouth hospital despite being in the final year of a Master’s degree in Internal Medicine in my home country of Myanmar. The opportunity to learn more about acute internal medicine while working in the UK, and having the opportunity to bring new experience and skills back to Myanmar was too good to turn down.

“Acute internal medicine is not a separate specialty in Myanmar, and that was part of the appeal. Interestingly, my enthusiasm and interest for this specialty grew stronger during my MTI training. I am so impressed by the role of this specialty in acute hospitals, and found a huge amount of value from its dynamism - looking after acutely ill patients for 48 to 72 hours before discharging or re-triaging the patient to another specialty - and the effect it can have in reducing admission rates using the ambulatory emergency care clinic.

“MTI was a great opportunity for me to work in the NHS as it helped train me to be a well-rounded doctor. The NHS, working hand in hand with regulatory bodies and the General Medical Council, ensures that we, part of NHS workforce, are learning and growing every day, taking care of patient safety, providing the best quality care we can provide to our patients and working in an enjoyable working environment. I had the opportunity to participate in data collection for our hospital’s mandatory venous thromboembolism audit, something that really got me interested in quality improvement.

“The chance to learn about medical leadership and management roles in acute medicine was also something that will serve me well as I progress in my career. Good leadership and management skills are essential to be able to function as an efficient medical registrar. I learned those skills both practically and by attending online courses, and I believe that emotional intelligence is the most important part of leadership skills.

“On a personal note, the transition to living and working in the UK was not easy.  It was extremely difficult and I struggled a lot because of the differences in weather, culture, food and between the different health systems of the UK and Myanmar. But this is of course part of the challenge, and I think I overcame these, which is a major part of the value of the MTI, both professionally and personally.

“I am very grateful to Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the MTI scheme for giving me the opportunity to be trained in the UK. I believe that MTI training is so important and benefits not just the doctor in training but also UK healthcare system and the trainee’s home country. I am personally grateful to the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the MTI scheme for giving me the opportunity.”

Growing Our Global Community

The College's international Fellowship continues to grow as more physicians recognise the value of becoming part of our global community. Achieving FRCP Edin recognises physicians' clinical achievements and brings international peer recognition. Being a Fellow also provides professional opportunities to contribute to setting standards, influencing global healthcare policy, and provides a great opportunity to network. If you are interested in effecting change and building a strong Fellowship community, especially in your own region, why not nominate a colleague for Fellowship. Information on the criteria for Fellowship is available here. The next date for receipt of Fellowship applications is 16 September 2019


52nd Academic Sessions of the Ceylon College of Physicians’ Conference

The next College event overseas is a collaboration; the joint 52nd Academic Sessions of the Ceylon College of Physicians’ conference. Please join us if you can on 12-14 September at the Grand Ballroom Galadari Hotel, where the College delegation will be meeting with Fellows and Members in Colombo and Kandy.

24th Advanced Gastroenterology & Hepatology Course

This well-established, two-day course attracts trainees and consultants from across the UK and Europe and is now open for booking. It provides an update on the latest evidence base for the management and treatment of gastrointestinal and liver conditions. Our expert speakers include Professor Michael Wallace from The Mayo Clinic in Florida and Professor Ernst Kuipers from Erasmus, The Netherlands as well as a long list of experts from the UK. The course will take place on 30 - 31 January 2020.

2019 Autumn Symposia International Web streaming

We currently live web stream our Education Symposia to over 60 sites in 40 countries around the world. We will be web streaming the following events to our established sites:

You are welcome to attend our free web streams at one of our international sites or Fellows and Members can set up their own site at a University or Hospital.  For more information please contact Sophie Milton, Education Engagement Officer.

Awards and Scholarships

Professor James C Petrie Scholarship award 2019 winners: Course in Acute and General Internal Medicine in May 2019

Many congratulations to Dr Ashish Shresthais and Dr Ihsan Jibril, the winners of the Professor James C Petrie Scholarship 2019.

Dr Ashish Shresthais a lecturer in the Department of Internal Medicine at Dhulikhel Hospital, Kathmandu University Hospital in Nepal.

Dr Ihsan Jibril is a senior (specialist) Registrar in Dermatology/Infectious Diseases in the Department of Internal Medicine at National Hospital Abuja, Nigeria.

The Professor James C Petrie Scholarship supports a delegate from a DfiD priority country to attend the RCPE Course in Acute and General Internal Medicine. The scholarship is named in memory of the late Professor James Colquhoun Petrie CBE, a distinguished Physician in Scotland who made significant contributions in the area of General Internal Medicine during his career and also a past President of the College.

Brian Chapman Scholarship award 2019 winners: International Course in Medicine of the Older Adult


We would also like to congratulate Dr Ramesh Kandel and Dr Han Win Htun as the winners of the 2019 Brian Chapman Scholarship.

ramesh_kandel_-_resized.jpgDr Ramesh Kandel is the first registered geriatrician in Nepal, and is the founder of the Nepal Association of Geriatrics and Gerontology.

And Dr Han Win Htun from Myanmar, who focuses on family medicine in his native country following previous work as a Malaria Programme Manager, and some time in New Zealand studying Public Health. 

The Brian Chapman Scholarship supports a delegate from a DfiD priority country to attend the annual Edinburgh International Course in Medicine of the Older Adult. The scholarship is named in memory of the late Dr Brian Chapman, a distinguished Geriatrician in Edinburgh who made significant contributions to the International Course and to the work of the College during his career.