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

Royal College of General Practitioners

This work aims to promote a reimagining of GP careers in order to support the revitalisation of a profession and a model of 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 General Practice and Primary Care community.

Because EXCELLENT General Practice needs not only gold standard evidence, but also  GOLD STANDARD WISDOM so as to deliver the highest standards of person-centred healthcare.

Three things you need to know about the GP Scholarship programme

  • OUR GOAL: to contribute to work to revitalise – perhaps to reimagine -  the profession and practice of General Practice. With a focus on the intellectual task - the pragmatic wisdom - of General Practice

  • WHAT WE'RE DOING: producing a set of resources to champion & cultivate GP Scholarship. Which includes: a Shining a Light resource pack (helping us all to champion scholarship), the Skills Academy (helping us all to cultivate the skills of scholarship), and support for Collective Wisdom (mentoring of individuals and building Communities of Action)

  • HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED: by contacting Joanne Reeve, GP Scholarship lead. You can also follow us on Twitter for regular updates.

Why are we recognising scholarship at the heart of General Practice?

Clinical Practice is changing.

The needs of patients and communities is changing – with a growing emphasis on managing chronic, complex illness; the risks of healthcare burden and iatrogenic harm; as well as the rising prevalence of illness that cannot be adequately defined by current understandings of pathology. Medical practice must adapt to meet new patient needs.

But wider social changes also affect the way professionals work. In a world characterised by widespread access to knowledge, professional practice is increasingly defined not by what you know, but by how you use what you know (Wenzel 2017).

For General Practice, this means revising our understanding of the medical generalist role. It is no longer sufficient to describe the generalist as someone who ‘knows a little about a lot of things’.

Rather we must redefine generalism by the intellectual task of the practitioner who can systematically access an appropriate range of information in order to offer a robust, personalised interpretation of a (potentially complex) illness experience and so translate that into an action plan (Reeve 2010). Recognising professional practice as the scholarly production and use of ‘knowledge-in-practice-in-context’ (Gabbay & le May 2011).

The GP Scholarship programme describes work to champion and cultivate the intellectual expertise at the heart of the discipline of general practice – the pragmatic wisdom of General and generalist Practice. Recognising that modern healthcare needs gold standard evidence, but also gold standard professional wisdom.

The PRAGMATIC WISDOM of General Practice:

the expertise to appropriately utilise both specialist and generalist medical reasoning and decision making to deliver tailored whole-person medical care; and to manage uncertainty through the generation of “knowledge-in-practice-in-context (Gabbay & le May 2011). Along with the extended skills needed to support evolving models of professional practice (Bryve 2018).

[Read more on SCHOLARSHIP here]

What are SAPC and RCGP doing to champion GP scholarship?

This work complements and builds on the foundations of General Practice professional training and practice described within RCGP curricula, Health Education England, the Clinical Research Networks, the combined UK medical schools (including SAPC) and others.

Recognising that every GP must be skilled and confident in the professional generation and use of ‘knowledge-in-practice-in-context'.

But that consultation with current GPs, trainers, trainees and students has revealed some key gaps to be filled to promote a vision and practice of The Wise GP.

  • A NEW STORY of General Practice: to Shine a Light on the intellectual excitement and challenge of general practice – Championing GP Wisdom 

Resources in development include: quick reference materials for distribution; on-line video/animation; the launch of GEMs (General practice Evidence for Modern practice)

  • Supporting NEW SKILLS for General Practice: a new Skills Academy to cultivate the skills of, and confidence in, extended professional practice

Resources in development include: Getting Started learning materials; Moving On – signposting to next level learning opportunities; Doctor Doctor? – considering the pros and cons of a PhD; Scholarship Based Medicine – a new CPD programme

  • New SUPPORT for General Practice TEAMS – building Communities of Action and networks of support for scholarly activity

Resources in development: Profiling existing networks – learning from what was gone before; Supporting new networks – mentorship for new networks


Find out more...

We will be launching some of our new resources 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 webpage.

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.


Who is involved developing and delivering the GP Scholarship Programme?

The Society for Academic Primary Care Exec (lead: Joanne Reeve) in partnership with the Royal College of GPs (leads: Martin Marshall, Ali Marsh, Pritesh Mistry - Innovation Research Board).

Groups involved with and supporting this work: SAPC Heads of Teaching, SAPC Heads of Departments, NIHR CRN Primary Care (Phil Evans). SAPC has provided £5k sponsorship for this work.

With thanks also to all the individuals involved with and supporting this work to date:  Kevin Anderson, Umesh Chauhan, Adam Firth, Kamilla Hawthorn, Ben Jackson, Sabena Jameel,  Sara McKelvieJonathan Mills ,  Faraz Mughal, Ebrahim Mulla, Emma ParryJo Protheroe, Imran Rafi, Joe Rosenthal, Helen Stokes-Lampard, Val Wass.

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.