Abstract Title | Peer-assisted learning - modernising medical education in the teaching of clinical skills


  1. Yousar Jafar
  2. Sian Williams


International Medical Education




Cardiff University


The majority of students who participated in the PAL sessions at HMU felt that this method of teaching enabled them to gain new skills the current medical curriculum does not offer.

Over 90% of PAL tutors agreed that after the PAL sessions, they felt more confident in their role as a teacher and gained new competencies. Similarly, the tutees felt more confident to ask questions and received valuable constructive feedback on their performance.

Peer-assisted learning helps to bridge the gap between students from different cohorts and gives students the opportunity to network and share their learning experiences with other students on an international scale (demonstrated by the Cardiff University/HMU facebook group). 


Peer-assisted learning is increasingly becoming a force to be reckoned with in medical schools across the UK.

In 2011, a partnership was established between Cardiff University medical school and Hawler medical university, North Iraq, to use peer-assisted learning to facilitate the teaching of clinical skills for medical students.

E-learning modules developed in Cardiff University regarding clinical skills teaching were also shared with HMU. These e-learning modules were utilised by the students before the PAL sessions to help them make the most of the clinical skills workshop and to aid the blended-learning strategy.

The aim of the partnership was to use peer-assisted learning as a catalyst for educational change in Iraq.



Take-home Messages

Through friendship and collaborative work between institutions, the concept of peer-assisted learning can be used to modernise medical education around the world.

Summary of Work

 The main aims of the project were:

  • To share developmental ideas for clinical skills teaching between Cardiff University and HMU
  • To promote peer-assisted learning and train final year medical students to become PAL leaders to facilitate the teaching of clinical skills
  • To assist HMU in developing a new model of student centred learning
  • To share lesson plans, learning outcomes and documentation
  • To share e-learning modules and videos developed in Cardiff University with HMU to aid the teaching of clinical skills
  • To set up a state-of-the-art clinical skills facility at HMU with the help of funding from the DelPHE-Iraq project



Summary of Results

Peer-assisted learning is an innovative and effecive method of enhancing the student experience and lessening the burden on medical schools. It is a mutually beneficial scheme that we found works well in different environments.

Both Cardiff university and HMU have incorporated PAL into their medical curriculum to facilitate the teaching of clinical skills as a result of this successful collaboration. From the funding received for this project, we have also helped HMU develop a state-of-the-art clinical skills lab.

We also gained a valuable insight into the problems faced by teachers at HMU, and the wider challenges of delivering healthcare in Iraq.




We would like to thank the British Council and DelPHE for financing this initiative and for senior staff and students at both Cardiff University and Hawler Medical University for their encouragement and support.

We would also like to thank the Student Iraqi Medical Association - Wales, a Cardiff University medical school society, for promoting peer-assisted learning successfully in Cardiff University and donating their fundraised money towards the link between Cardiff University and HMU to help purchase an ECG machine for the new clinical skills lab in Iraq.


For the sustainability of this project we created a facebook group to keep in contact with Hawler medical students and monitor their progress.

We are pleased to say that the medical students have managed to organise their own PAL workshops for their colleagues and have uploaded their photos on facebook.



This collabortation was funded by the Department for International Development (DfiD) and managed by the British Council. The aims of the DelPHE-Iraq projects are essentially to work to strengthen capacity within Iraq and contribute to the country’s sustainable development by:  

  • Encouraging knowledge-sharing in higher education, learning and research.
  • Building the capacity of Iraqi universities to deliver professional skills.
  • Improving opportunities for women within the Iraqi higher education sector.

DelPHE-Iraq reconnects Iraqi higher education institutions with their counterparts around the world so that they can share skills, knowledge and ideas, for example:

  • Developments in information technology and research equipment,
  • Creating opportunities to network with higher education professionals from other countries,
  • Strengthening and modernising current approaches to teaching and learning in higher education.
Take-home Messages
Summary of Work

The clinical skills e-learning modules were developed in Cardiff University and shared with HMU via this link:

Medical students in both Cardiff University and HMU were advised to access these e-learning modules before attending the PAL workshops so they can make the most of their learning experience.

The innovation of these e-modules allow learning to be individualised, enables students to work at a pace that suits them and also transforms the role of the teacher to become a facilitator of education.



Summary of Results
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