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At the start of their clinical training in Year 4, students have a week-long placement in General Practice. This is part of the Patient Doctor 2 (“PD2”) Course, which teaches the principles of history-taking and examination. The aims of the Primary Care attachment are to practise and develop clinical skills, as well as to learn about the work of both the GP and the community multi-disciplinary team. Students often attend practices outside of the Oxfordshire area for this attachment, sometimes near to their parents’ homes.

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The communication skills course is taught principally in Year 4. It comprises small-group sessions involving actors and role-play, supervised by GP tutors. The main role of the tutor is to act as facilitator, giving feedback to students and encouraging constructive contributions from the group. Each session has a different theme:

  • Listening Skills and Patient-Centred Consulting
  • Explanation and Shared Decision Making
  • Feedback 
  • Breaking Bad News
  • Angry and Aggressive patients
  • Talking about Sex
  • Communication and diversity

There is also a session in Year 5, run jointly with the Psychiatry Department. This is about the communication skills required to deal effectively with mental health presentations such as acute psychosis and personality disorder.

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Whilst students are on their 4th Year attachment in a District General Hospital (DGH), they get to spend three afternoons in General Practice. The purpose of these sessions is to consolidate the clinical skills they are learning on the wards and to gain experience of Primary Care presentations of illness. Students are attached to practices in Reading, Swindon, Northampton and High Wycombe/Stoke Mandeville.

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The Evidence-Based Medicine Course teaches students skills in searching and critical appraisal. It not only supports their medical studies, but also aims to give them a framework for approaching clinical decision-making throughout their future careers.

During the EBM Course, students learn to:

  • Formulate answerable clinical questions
  • Identify the type of research which best answers different classes of clinical questions
  • Recognise which research databases and secondary sources will be most helpful
  • Appraise and apply the results of different research studies, to help in the management of individual patients
  • Express the results of clinical trials in terms of both relative and absolute risk reductions
  • Be able to explain the numerical results to patients

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This is an optional month-long course, designed to offer students greater experience of Primary Care. Involving both small-group teaching and a clinical attachment in a local surgery, it explores what makes general practice such a complex, exciting and rewarding specialty.

The aims are for the students to:

  • See patients in Primary Care and gain further understanding of the work of a GP
  • Practise clinical skills, particularly history-taking and examination 
  • Reflect on the unique challenges associated with looking after patients in Primary Care 
  • Concentrate on an area of special interest to produce a poster project

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