In 2006 the new Dean of Medicine at UNSW, Prof Bruce Dowton, who returned to Sydney from Harvard Medical School, suggested eliminating the 5th year of the traditional medical education programme and substituting a year of research in the student’s chosen area for either 3rd or 4th year. This programme became known as the Independent Learning Programme (ILP). Each ILP student is co-supervised by one of the dermatology research fellows, who are either local pre-dermatology fellows or international postdermatology fellows.
Method: To review the total number of ILP students in dermatology at St George Hospital in the last decade, their publication rate, retention of interest in dermatology and progress into the specialty.
Results: Since 2006, St George has had 23 ILP students. Those ILP students who have started dermatology training so far include: John Frew (2006), who now has 28 pubmed papers, Deshan Sebaratnam (29 papers), Yong Kho (2), Shien-Ning Chee (8) and Shelley Hwang (5). The fellow co-supervisors of these students who have also completed Masters degrees at St George include: Linda Martin, Supriya Venugopal, Liz Intong, Ben Daniel and Adam Harris. Other pre-dermatology fellows cosupervisors who were former ILP students themselves include Cathy Zhao, Minhee Kim and Anes Yang.
Conclusion: The ILP programme at UNSW is unique in Australia. It may engender a continued passion for research and academic dermatology amongst those who have beneﬁtted from this special year in their education.