Championing and cultivating the intellectual expertise at the heart of the profession of General Practice

#GPwisdom         #GPscholarship

Royal College of General Practitioners

SAPC, working in partnership with the RCGP, is leading work to raise the profile of, capacity for, and impact of clinical scholarship across the General Practice and Primary Care community.

Three things you need to know about the GP Scholarship programme

  • OUR GOAL: to contribute to work to revitalise - to reimagine - the profession and practice of General Practice 
  • WHAT WE'RE DOING: producing a set of resources to champion & cultivate, including: a Shining a Light resource pack (helping you showcase scholarship), Skills Academy (helping you gain skills of scholarship), Mentoring individuals and supporting academic GP networks (helping grow capacity)
  • WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW: oin us in shaping and sharing the work by attending our SAPC workshop, our workshop at RCGP conference in October (session A3) or  by contacting Joanne Reeve, GP Scholarship lead.

Why scholarship - the rationale for change

The GP workforce, the profession, is facing enormous pressures. More of the same will not do. It is time to rethink, reimagine General Practice in order to recruit, retain and nurture a profession; update a service to meet 21st century patient needs; and reposition generalist medicine at the core of health service strategy and redesign.

Scholarship refers to both the intellectual task of GP practice and the collective professional wisdom of our discipline.

Scholarship is the higher level thinking that underpins the everyday pragmatism of clinical practice - the intellectual expertise that enables clinicians to deliver highest quality care to their individual patients. 

Scholarship is a necessary part of professional excellence: both in the context of the clinical consultation, as well as the extended roles undertaken by many GPs including practice development and organisation, education, innovation, leadership, and research.

Scholarship is defined by the tasks and actions that people do, not by job title or contractual status.

We need to rethink how we recognisechampionand cultivate General Practice as the intellectual discipline it is, and needs to be, to address today's healthcare challenges.

What are SAPC and RCGP doing to champion GP scholarship?

We have 3 aims, being to: 

Recognise: the RCGP moto ‘cum Scientia caritas’ highlights that GPs should use science in the way that patients need - balcing scientific wisdom with compassionate care

Championshining a spotlight on the everyday scholarship of all GPs in their daily clinical practice and the growing array of extended roles

Cultivateproviding the resources to support the profession to extend skills of scholarship into all areas of practice – clinical care; education and training; improvement, innovation and research


SAPC and RCGP recognise that the GP workforce is not homogeneous. In conversation with international colleagues, we  have described three current models of work for today's GP,  with both shared and distinct scholarship needs within each.

  • Every GP a Scholar (sGP) – the intellectual essence of the profession of General Practice: recognising and supporting the higher level thinking/intellectual tasks underpinning the pragmatism of everyday clinical practice

  • GPs with extended scholarly roles (eGP) – education, innovation, implementation, as well as research

  • Academic GPs (aGP)  – those with university based contracts in education and research – the smallest group but key to preserving and building recognition/respect for the profession of General Practice and the discipline of Academic Primary Care

From this, we have developed 3 work streams to take forward this work

Rethinking General PracticeChampioning and cultivating the intellectual expertise of all GPs - ‘every GP a Scholar’

Includes developing resources to shine a light on everyday scholarship, new support for professional life-long learning, and building and sharing collective professional wisdom

Rethinking General Practice careersEnabling extended roles and portfolio careers

Includes resources to help GPs 'get in' and 'get on' in extended roles, rethinking career planning

Rethinking Academic General Practice: sustaining and growing the GP contribution to the discipline of academic primary care

Includes development of a peer support network, and career paths review

Find out more...

You can read more about the resources being developed here. We will be launching some of these at our workshop at RCGP Conference (session A3) in Glasgow in October 2018. Future work will be shared through SAPC and RCGP news outlets and Twitter, and on this page.

Please do contact Joanne Reeve if you have comments, queries or suggestions for this work

There's a great introduction to our work described in this blog by Domhnall MacAuley, Associate Editor of the Candian Medical Association Journal, by watching this short video pubished by CMAJ. And some more details on the background in the section below.


Background Info

Why GP Scholarship?

We need to champion and cultivate the intellectual expertise of General Practice for the sake of:

  • Patients: to support the individually tailored care needed to address treatment burden, both over- and under-diagnosis, and the need for person-centred health care

  • Professionals: to address workforce challenges arising from low autonomy, replacing trust in people with trust in systems, and the burn out risks that come from feeling inadequately equipped to deliver the service demanded. To make visible the often ‘hidden’ expertise – every GP a scholar; to support the growing proportion of GPs with extended roles that involve scholarship (research, teaching and innocation); and to address concerns that General Practice is the largest branch of medicine but with the smallest proportion of academics.

  • Health systems: to embed the intellectual capacity and expertise needed to create learning organisations that are adequate to respond and adapt to rapidly changing health needs and contextual challenge. So as to deliver responsive and adaptive health systems that are fleet of foot, including embedding capacity to teach the theory and discipline of general practice & primary care throughout all levels of health systems.

Aims and priorities for the SAPC GP Scholarship work

Our GP Scholarship work maps to the strategic aims of SAPC.

Three Key Aims

  1. Addressing Career and Workforce development needs: recruitment and retention, making  GP careers attractive for current and future doctors

  2. Developing skills: enhancing front-line scholarship skills needed in today’s primary care and quality improvement agenda

  3. Raising awareness: promoting understanding of the intellectual expertise of generalist practice across the primary care commuity

Working Group

Partners from across SAPC and RCGP already involved in this work include SAPC Exec members Jo Protheroe, , Imran Rafi; SAPC members Emma Parry, Sara McKelvie, Umesh Chauhan, Faraz Mughal, Jonathan Mills; and RCGP Officers Martin Marshall, Helen Stokes-Lampard, Kamilla Hawthorn, and Nigel Mathers.

The Building Blocks

The GP Scholarship work builds on earlier SAPC work including Jane Roberts work on supporting GPs with Exended Roles, and Greg Irving's work on supporting Academic Clinical Fellows.

Collective professional wisdom is an integral part of Academic Primary Care: the distinct body of work and knowledge that defines, develops and delivers the person-centred model/system of healthcare that is primary care. We need strong Academic Primary Care, now more than ever, if we are to achieve the effective, efficient, equitable health care that the best models of primary care can deliver. The strength of our discipline comes from bringing together Primary Care clinicians, including GPs, and Primary Health Care Scientists in a shared goal of championing excellence in primary care scholarship driving improvements in primary care provision.