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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)

  • It won't work

    Make the job better and more respected by the hospital lot. Patronising students by GP educationalists who do two sessions a month is useless.

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  • Great idea. Students should spend far more time in general practice. I was destined for hospital medicine until my FY2 job in general practice gave me the exposure I needed.

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