13th October 2022

Few would argue that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest threats facing healthcare. Indeed, infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are estimated to kill more people than HIV/AIDS or malaria. Yet there is a sense that healthcare students and junior staff – future practitioners on the frontline against AMR – are being overlooked when it comes to educating them about the responsible use of antimicrobials. Here, Dr Sanjay Patel, Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology at Southampton Children’s Hospital and leader of BSAC’s Keep Antimicrobials Working programme, explores how and why we must do better…

Although there has been a huge focus on antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) and improving prescribing practices within healthcare and veterinary settings over the past few years, there has been little focus on the AMS/AMR offer for undergraduate students. Surveys of final year medical, pharmacy and dentistry students repeatedly demonstrate that they feel ill-prepared at qualification when it comes to antimicrobial management.

The BSAC Keep Antimicrobials Working (KAW) programme was established in 2020 to address this need. The focus of the programme is to develop high-quality educational resources for undergraduates and junior staff, as well as hosting resources for educators on the KAW website.

Another key outcome of the programme is to successfully advocate for AMS content to be included in undergraduate curricula. The group continues to work with national exam boards to ensure that AMS knowledge is examined within undergraduate assessments. The long-term vision of KAW is to ensure all new graduates from healthcare professional programmes are trained in the principles of evidence-based antimicrobial stewardship, based on the NICE endorsed consensus-based national antimicrobial stewardship competencies for UK undergraduate healthcare professionals and aligned with the WHO Global action plan on antimicrobial resistance.

Medical school leads and medical students from across the UK have collaborated to develop the current website content and a similar approach is being taken by schools of pharmacy and dentistry. Please look at the resources and disseminate them to your junior colleagues and medical students. Empowering the future multidisciplinary workforce is essential if we are to successfully tackle AMR.

Dr Sanjay Patel is a paediatric infectious diseases and immunology consultant working at Southampton Children’s Hospital, UK. His main areas of interest are outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy (OPAT) and antimicrobial stewardship (AS). He is the Officer for Stewardship and Surveillance for the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC) and chairs the paediatric network of the ESCMID Study Group for Antimicrobial Stewardship (ESGAP). He chaired the BSAC working group that developed national common infection pathways for children and he also leads the Healthier Together programme in Wessex, which has significantly reduced primary care antimicrobial prescribing through the implementation of consistent management approaches for professionals and effective safety netting resources for parents.

GP? Pharmacist? Researcher? Social Scientist? Whatever field you work in, if you’re committed to fighting infection then we want you to join us as a BSAC Member.
Become a member

Having trouble finding what you're after?