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Over the past year, the Primary Care Teaching Group has run a pilot clinical course for Year 3 students. Named “Learning from Patients”, this new venture has successfully provided the opportunity for extended patient contact to students who are otherwise engaged in their FHS scientific studies. Ima Silva and Martha Hughes are Year 3 students who have participated in the pilot course. Here, they give their verdicts.

Photo of students Ima and Martha

Ima Silva: 

'When I first heard about the pilot Learning from Patients course, I knew that it was something I wanted to get involved with. I really enjoyed the Patient & Doctor course in my first and second years, but I always wanted to learn more about the patients than I was able to do only seeing each patient once.

The Learning from Patients course has been such a fantastic opportunity to build trust and rapport with patients over a longer period and foster a true appreciation and understanding for the story behind each patient. I feel that I have had the opportunity to develop communication skills and practise having constructive and informative interactions with patients. I have learnt a lot about my strengths and weaknesses.

The debrief sessions with other students were engaging and insightful and gave me the chance to reflect on my own experiences and share thoughts with my peers. The support I received from my GP tutor was exceptional: she gave us useful advice about communication skills, highlighting the different techniques to implement when speaking to patients. 

The organisation of the course meant that we had the flexibility to tailor the sessions to our academic needs as well as the needs of the patients. The course provided a safe and constructive atmosphere for practising different styles of communication and has allowed me to get out of my comfort zone when speaking to patients. Overall, this experience has been very rewarding and I’m so glad that I had this opportunity. I have a lot more confidence in myself thanks to this course and I’m excited to bring this forward into clinical school later this year.'  


Martha Hughes:

'Whilst I was initially concerned about overcommitting in this third year of my degree, I am pleased I opted to take time to pursue the Learning from Patients course. It didn’t feel like a burden in the slightest: the independence that came from organising our own appointments gave us a taste of responsibility and allowed freedom to negotiate a schedule with patients and GP tutors.

The Patient & Doctor sessions in Years One and Two were a good introduction, but this was my first opportunity to meet with a patient several times. This meant I could get an idea of their journey, rather than just an isolated “snapshot” in time. Being able to access historical records in the GP surgery, spend several hours conversing with my patient and having the chance to speak to people close to her (sibling and carer), provided a longitudinal and holistic view of her afflictions. This led to very constructive meetings, which aided my consultation and interpersonal skills. Having a dedicated and skilled GP tutor to guide me was invaluable, particularly to address my concerns and provide insights I hadn’t even considered. It was particularly a nice reminder of the kind of position I am aiming towards in my future career!' 

Opinions expressed are those of the author/s and not of the University of Oxford. Readers' comments will be moderated - see our guidelines for further information.