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Practitioner training: new BMJ, Cancer Research UK and Health Education England online courses

Cancer Research UK, BMJ and Health Education England are now providing online courses for practitioners and patients on FutureLearn, the UK’s first open social learning platform.

Mark Lester, Director of Partnerships Development at FutureLearn, said courses from these best-in-class institutions showed a new model of healthcare education was underway.

“Universities and medical institutions have world-leading expertise, FutureLearn is a new way to deliver that knowledge to thousands of healthcare workers at the same time, at home or overseas,” he said.

Speaking from the Arab Health Summit in Dubai, Mark Lester said GPs, nurses, allied health workers, patients and families anywhere in the world could join the million people who have already taken a healthcare course with FutureLearn since classes started in 2013.

“Practitioners can choose when and where they study, a train ride or a shift break becomes study time and courses are accessible on mobile phones and tablets.

“FutureLearn uses collaboration between learners to support inter-professional education and champions practitioner and patient exchange, to deliver patient-centred healthcare.

“Healthcare providers can use online learning to help their team meet the challenges posed by an ageing population, changing morbidities and rapid medicine and technology development,” he said.

Dulcie Ireland, Cancer Research UK’s senior innovation manager, said:

“Cancer is a huge and often confusing topic. Working with FutureLearn is an exciting opportunity that allows Cancer Research UK to help ease that confusion and deliver our comprehensive courses to reach new audiences. This will help increase understanding of the key issues including prevention, early diagnosis and participation in clinical trials,” she said.

“Everyone who participates in our courses, from health professionals to cancer sufferers, community volunteers and general interest learners, will gain the skills and knowledge they need to help beat cancer sooner,” Dulcie Ireland said.

John Paul Maytum, MBE, Communications Advisor to the Health Education England Genomics Education Programme commented:

“Our ongoing partnership with FutureLearn allows us to pioneer new and innovative ways to encourage healthcare professionals to learn more about Genomics, thus ensuring the NHS remains a world leader in Genomic medicine. The FutureLearn platform gives learners the flexibility to study at a time and place suitable to them, and fits in perfectly with our own portfolio of specialist genomics resources, courses and informative videos,” he said.

Dr. Dean Jenkins FRCP, Medical Education Consultant, BMJ, said:

“We are delighted to be part of this initiative which reflects our continuing commitment to helping healthcare professionals learn and develop the skills they need to provide high quality patient care,” he said.

The new courses on offer are:

  • ‘Talking about Cancer’ from Cancer Research UK /courses/talking-about-cancer/1
  • ‘Whole Genome Sequencing’ from Health Education England /courses/whole-genome-sequencing

These courses add to FutureLearn’s current healthcare portfolio covering mental health, nursing, dementia, obesity, international health, Ebola, genomics and healthy lifestyle.



About FutureLearn

FutureLearn is a social learning platform based in the UK and providing free, online courses from the world’s leading educators. The partnership consists of UK and international universities, alongside specialist education institutions and centres of research excellence from around the world. All these offer high quality courses to anyone with an internet connection, anywhere in the world.

The FutureLearn course experience centres on social interaction, whereby people learn by engaging in conversations around the learning material. FutureLearn is wholly owned by The Open University (UK), which has over 40 years of expertise in distance and online learning. For more information, visit


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