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How to...teach medical students

Dr Melanie Wynne-Jones on the issues to consider if your practice wants to take on teaching medical students.

Dr Melanie Wynne-Jones on the issues to consider if your practice wants to take on teaching medical students.

Start by making a business case for teaching medical students. Does the practice have the skills, time, space, resources and enthusiasm?

What will it cost in partner, nurse and administrative time? Do the fees and other benefits justify it? If not, is the practice happy to teach at a loss because individuals enjoy teaching? If you decide it is worth teaching, this is what you should do.

1 Ask your local medical school if it is looking for teaching practices. For which years, and how many, would it want you to accept? What is the practice expected to provide in return for the fees? Will you be expected to teach basic clinical skills as well as general practice topics? Does the practice already have the necessary skills?

2 Decide who will be lead tutor. Will all doctors, including salaried doctors and registrars, teach? How will workloads need adjusting?

3 Plan a teaching programme incorporating sitting in with patients, taking histories, physical examinations, presenting cases and sitting in with the duty doctor. Adapt to individual students' needs. Involve other staff so that students can see how general practice works.

4 Inform patients through notices, the newsletter and website, and individually before they enter the consulting room. Make it clear that they have a right not to have students present, and that their care will not be affected if they refuse.

5 Build a database of patients with interesting or unusual conditions or psychosocial circumstances who are willing to see students at the surgery or in their own homes. Don't stretch their goodwill.

6 Set ground rules – what the practice expects of the students, such as confidentiality, regular attendance, use of the internet and so on, and what the practice will provide in terms of the timetable, teaching, support and feedback.

7 Negotiate with each student what they would particularly like to get out of the attachment, practice resources permitting.

8 Fill in assessments and paperwork promptly and ask for feedback. Invoice the university regularly and check payment is received.

Teaching can be immensely satisfying. But it can be demanding too, and it is important to audit workloads and review the business case annually.

Dr Melanie Wynne-Jones is a GP in Marple, Cheshire

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