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


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

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.

You can read a summary of our ideas and work in this blog by Domhnall MacAuley, Associate Editor of the Candian Medical Association Journal, by watching this short video pubished by CMAJ, or read on...


What do we mean by scholarship?

Scholarship refers to both the intellectual capacity of individual GPs (Every GP a Scholar) and the collective professional wisdom.

Our view of scholarship recognises the full range of intellectual tasks described by Boyer. Namely, Discovery (including original research); Integration (information synthesis across discipline/topics/time); Application (discovering ways to use knowledge to solve problems); and Inspiration (teaching). Scholarship is defined by tasks and actions not by job title or contractual status.

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

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.

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 and teaching); 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 for learning organisations adequate to respond and adapt to rapidly changing health needs and contextual challenges – 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

Targeting 3 communities within the GP workforce

  • Every GP a scholar (sGP) refers the intellectual/scholarly skills of all GPs delivering whole person care. 
  • GPs with extended roles (eGP) are those with portfolio careers that include extended scholarly activities (teaching, research, innovation, implementation).
  • Academic GPs (aGP) are those with university based contracts.

Areas of action

Detailed plans are in development, but initial plans are focusing on

  • Championing GP Scholarship: includes a BJGP Blog series and workshops at RCGP Conference targeting sGP
  • Developing a skills academy: targeting eGP and sGP
  • CHampioning Academic GP careers: supporting aGP

Working Group

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

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.