Acquisition of basic clinical skills in the general practice setting
Undergraduate medical education in the UK is changing due to both educational pressure (from the General Medical Council) and changes in the hospital service. As a result the role of general practice in providing core clinical experience is under debate. The purpose of this study was to determine the clinical contact available for junior clinical medical clerks (third year) attached to five general practices. We report here on the clinical experience recorded by students during 106 sessions (74% of possible sessions). One hundred and one patients were seen, 54% females; ages ranging from 14 to 92. Four hundred and twenty-six symptoms were recorded; the largest category (36%) was CVS/respiratory followed by neurological (20%). Shortness of breath was the commonest single symptom (46% in the CVS/respiratory category). Three hundred and seventy-one signs were recorded; 48% were in the CVS/respiratory category, 33% in the neurological category. Cardiac murmurs were the commonest single sign (34% of the CVS/respiratory category). Sixty-nine separate comments were made by students about the range of clinical experience available; all were favourable. Forty-eight per cent of comments highlighted the availability of patients with appropriate symptoms and signs. This study has demonstrated that general practices can provide appropriate clinical exposure which complements hospital teaching for junior students.