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The waiting game

Medical students exposed to general practice via video link

University of Aberdeen School of Medicine and Dentistry is hoping to attract more students into general practice by live-streaming consultations as part of first year teaching.

Dr John McKeown, a GP and clinical lecturer, who developed the GP Live system said the feedback from students who normally would have to wait until the fourth year to see a GP in action was ‘hugely positive’.

He said it had proved a very successful way to expose students to general practice at an early stage and they had really enjoyed seeing what was going to come up next, he said.

The RCGP has predicted a shortage of 830 GPs in Scotland by 2020 and a range of iniatives has been launched to try to fill more training places, including £20,000 golden handshakes.

Dr McKeown came up with the idea of live streaming after the university installed a state-of-the-art digital classroom with web conference tools.

The real benefit of the system was that with a teacher in the classroom, the students could ask lots of questions, for example about consultation skills, they would not feel comfortable doing if they were actually in the room with the GP, he said.

Dr McKeown plans to expand the system to use the technology to give students a taster of different types of general practice, for example working in a rural practice.

‘One of my theories is we have a lot of good role models out there in general practice and letting students see them at work, seeing a variety of patients and seeing them enjoying their job is really important,' he said.

The students accessed the consultations, which were being done by another GP at his practice, on a YouTube-style interface and loved the unpredictability of it, said Dr McKeown.

Only two patients declined to take part and the video streaming was on a time delay for confidentiality reasons.

Dr McKeown said: ‘It is a really efficient use of resource, the GP is working anyway, the teacher is working anyway and you can have eight, nine, 10 or more students in the classroom.

‘By the time our current first-year students graduate there will be a pressing need for new GPs in Scotland, and this initiative is designed to show them what an appealing career it can be.’

It comes as the Department of Health has said medical schools that promote general practice could receive extra funding to expand places from 2019.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Would it not save much fuss to use videos of a certain channel 5 series as a teaching aid? Exposing fresh first years to the hardened cynicism of coal faced GPs might see a spike in the numbers of students (very sensibly) dropping out to do IT or Economics and learning Cantonese at night school. GP is too toxic a swamp even for most of us, let alone doe-eyed Bambi like first years. No?

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  • Kim jong-Un has a fake town to attract defectors . We need some CGI glam gp's driving Lambos . The trick here is to stop them finding out what its really like . As soon as that happens they're off .

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  • 'One of my theories is we have a lot of good role models out there in general practice'
    Interesting. Any evidence?

    Real life is often dull. Wonder if any students would like to watch me doing my Docman tonight, and dealing with all the faxes from the hospital about tests they did in clinic last week. Won't be very exciting TV

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  • Hi, this was me. Just a normal mid career working GP most of the week. Responding to the above it's probably sufficient to provide some comments from the students after the session -
    “Informative, relaxed, fun”,
    “Informative, engaging and novel”
    “Very interactive, lots of opportunities to discuss and learn”
    "Do these sessions from first year!",
    and my personal favourite,
    “I usually think that a 100% rating is something I give when just to be nice (sic) but this session was such a great experience that even describing it to my family on the phone got them very curious and interested.
    This session didn't only show a realistic but very skilled (from an untrained perspective at least) interactions between a GP and a patient but it also motivated me to improve towards reaching a similar professional level in future interactions. This format has a lot more impact on students than model consultation videos found online as it does not feel set up and artificial.”

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