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Does teaching during a general practice consultation affect patient care?

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor John Spencer


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Background. General practice differs from hospital medicine in the personal nature of the doctor-patient relationship and in the need to address social and psychological issues as well as physical problems. Recent changes in undergraduate medical education have resulted in more teaching and learning taking place in general practitioner (GP) surgeries. Aim. To explore patients' experiences of attending a surgery with a medical student present. Method. A questionnaire was designed, based on semistructured interviews. Questionnaires were posted to patients who had attended teaching surgeries in London and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Results. Four hundred and eighty questionnaires were sent; of these, 335 suitable for analysis were returned. The response rate in Newcastle was 79%, and in London 60%. Ninety-five per cent of responders agreed that patients have an important role in teaching medical students. Patients reported learning more and having more time to talk, however, up to 10% of responders left the consultation without saying what they wanted to say and 30% found it more difficult to talk about personal matters. Conclusion. The presence of a student has a complex effect on the general practice consultation. Future developments in medical education need to be evaluated in terms of how patient care is affected as well as meeting educational aims.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Spencer J; O'Flynn N; Jones R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of General Practice

Year: 1999

Volume: 49

Issue: 438

Pages: 7-9

Print publication date: 01/01/1999

ISSN (print): 0960-1643

ISSN (electronic): 1478-5242

Publisher: Royal College of General Practitioners