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GPs go forth

University expands general practice curriculum to boost GP numbers

The University of Bristol is planning to increase the amount of time medical students spend learning about general practice in an effort to boost the number of GPs entering the workforce.

An overhaul of the undergraduate medical curriculum at the university will see a 20% increase in the amount of learning that medical students will undertake in the community, including in general practice.

To launch the new curriculum, Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) is campaigning to involve more practising GPs in teaching 1,250 medical students across five academic years at the university.

The new curriculum will see the number of general practice sessions undertaken by the students increased from 17,000 to 50,000 sessions each year for a total of 150,000 concurrent general practice teaching hours across the five years.

The decision to increase the amount of time spent in general practice was taken following the declining numbers of GPs in the South West and nationally.

A BMJ Open study, recently found that seven out of 10 GPs in the South West intend to reduce patient contact in the next five years, either by leaving patient care, taking a career break or reducing their hours.

Dr Trevor Thompson, a GP and head of teaching at CAPC, said the new curriculum’s ‘stronger emphasis on primary care’ led by ‘positive GP role models’ will increase the number of students who choose general practice as a career. 

He added that giving GPs the opportunity to teach medical students will improve their job satisfaction and retention.

He said: ‘With GP numbers under threat like never before, and the extraordinary pressures on the NHS more generally, it is vital that we unite as a profession to attract and retain the best and brightest students.’

Dr Simon Thornton, GP engagement lead at CAPC, said the new curriculum is a ‘fantastic opportunity to inspire the next generation of GPs’, adding that general practice ‘is an excellent place for students to learn skills such as decision-making and consultation skills’.

Readers' comments (12)

  • Good luck finding the "positive GP role models" to actually do the teaching. I worry this may back fire. If I had received more exposure to what general practice is like now I would not be here working (with no time to teach).

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  • An interesting insight into Medical School thinking; students are paying fees to the University not to be trained to help them towards a rewarding career, but to help solve the recruitment problems of the NHS.

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  • If the University was acting in the interest of it's students, there would a course on how to find employment and careers outside of the NHS, which would include emigration and alternative careers to NHS Medicine.

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  • I am not certain, but I think I read somewhere that medical schools would be given extra funds if they spend more time teaching medical students about general practice. If this is the case then .... follow the money tree

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  • 'Decision making' and 'Consultation skills', both of which are refuted by patients, whenever the goal post is reset and GP's are left to deal with the aftermath!

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  • There is no shortage of muppets at the bottom and Judas' goats at the top.

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  • Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care
    This may well encourage young doctors to follow their stromg, positive role models into academia,research,student administration and teaching,working for the college,reviewing papers etc
    However,at some point, someone, somewhere is goingto have to consider producing some doctors who actually see patients

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  • just fund us properly and this is all unnecessary.

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  • This is a no brainer and well done to Trevor and Simon for developing this. I spent a fraction of my time in general practice- of course more exposure is needed.

    As for all the sceptics - we are a large Bristol Training practice who deliver registrar and student teaching in an inner city challenging environment. We all love teaching and we receive excellent feedback and many of our students go on to train in general practice.

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  • Indeed Shaba;and how many to actually practice general practice

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