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​Researchers explore possibility of GP trainees teaching undergraduates

Researchers are to look into using GP Specialty trainees (GPSTs) to teach undergraduates following preliminary findings that suggest students rate teaching from GPSTs ‘as highly as for qualified GP tutors’.

The researchers behind ‘GP Specialty Trainees (GPSTs) as Teachers – a cross-institutional analysis’ are at an ‘early stage’ of using focus groups and semi-structured interviews with GPST tutors, students taught by GPSTs, and other stakeholders in GP education, to explore ‘perspectives and experiences around GPSTs as teachers’.

Researchers from the GKT School of Medical Education, King’s College London and University College London Medical School, point out that a shift in delivery of undergraduate medical education towards the community requires additional teaching capacity at a time when financial constraints and clinical demands are limiting the ability to offer this.

‘A similar challenge in Australian General Practice in the past decade led to the use and evaluation of GP trainees as teachers but there is relatively little UK evidence about the amount of undergraduate medical student teaching that GP Specialty Trainees (GPSTs) deliver, the quality of that education, or the perspectives of relevant stakeholders,’ said the researchers.

The researchers highlighted two UK schemes. In 2012-13, GPSTs took part in a pilot project to teach undergraduate medical students in the community at the GKT School of Medical Education, King’s College London. Since then GPSTs have continued to deliver such teaching.

And since 2014-15, GP training schemes in North and East London have offered a six month rotating Innovative Training Post for trainees in their first or second year of GP training, delivering undergraduate community teaching for University College London Medical School.

‘Early results suggest that GPST tutors receive student evaluation that is comparable to qualified tutors,’ the researchers said.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said: ‘By the time GPs are in GP specialty training, they have been in medicine for at least seven years, and as such already have a lot of knowledge to impart, and a lot of experience of being taught themselves – so it’s not surprising that the students involved in this study valued the opportunities to teach.’

She added: ‘For those trainees that want to experience teaching, and as long as there is appropriate supervision from qualified GP tutors, it could be rewarding for trainees to deliver training to students. It is also is easy to see that students might enjoy teaching that has been delivered by someone closer to them in terms of career progression.’

However, Professor Stokes-Lampard warned that the final year of GP training is already really busy, and ‘we would not want trainees to feel pressurised into teaching if they didn’t want to’.