SAPC Innovations in undergraduate GP teaching

The need for new approaches to undergraduate teaching in general practice was brought starkly into focus by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.  A range of novel educational resources, developed by SAPC Heads of GP Teaching (HoTs), in partnership with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the Medical Schools Council (MSC), has proved invaluable in supporting medical students’ learning in general practice.  Three of these SAPC led resources, now available to all UK and Ireland medical schools, are introduced below and will be featured  in the Education keynote on the second day of the virtual SAPC ASM 2021: Thursday 1st July 2021 by Prof Joe Rosenthal, Prof Alex Harding and Dr Jane Kirby.


1. Teaching General Practice:  Guiding principles for undergraduate general practice in the UK


General practice underpins the whole of our National Health Service, making the greatest proportion of patient contacts and providing essential continuity by holding patients' medical records for their life course. Now more than ever we need to promote the expert medical generalist role as we plan for the future of a rapidly changing NHS.


Teaching General Practice, developed in collaboration between SAPC and RCGP provides guidance for all medical schools on how best to provide GP teaching and promote general practice as a career which is professionally and intellectually rewarding.


The guidance is based on published evidence and current best practice in UK medical schools,and has been refined through consultation with the Medical Schools Council (MSC), General Medical Council (GMC) and the MRCGP Curriculum Development Group. It aims to support implementation of the recommendations of the Health Education England (HEE) and the Medical Schools Council 'By choice - not by chance' report on raising the profile of general practice at medical schools.


Teaching General Practice does not propose a one-size-fits-all curriculum or syllabus, but rather a set of guiding principles providing ample space for individual undergraduate programmes to adapt and innovate. Medical schools are urged to use this document to inform thinking around the quantity, content and process of general practice teaching, both on placements and on campus. This process should integrate with local medical school curricula and also broader GMC curriculum outcomes.


Teaching General Practice can be accessed via the RCGP undergraduate website at:


2. Learning General Practice:  An educational resource for medical students in general practice


In addition to a breadth of clinical knowledge and skills developed throughout their training, all medical graduates should understand the core elements of the discipline of general practice and the principles of primary health care.

Learning General Practice has been developed by SAPC Heads of Teaching in order to  provide brief explanations for each of the key underlying principles set out in the Teaching General Practice document above. The principles are organised under three overarching themes ie: Person-centred care, Population-centred Care & Effective delivery of care.   Each principle is described in the form of a short essay and complemented with suggested learning activities and pointers for further learning.  We hope that this concise and accessible set of resources will prove helpful for all students on GP placements and to their tutors.


3. Virtual Primary Care

Virtual Primary Care (VPC) is an innovative, general practice based educational resource offering fly on the wall access to 150 diverse, real life primary care consultations recorded in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol and London. Every consultation has been tagged for clinical and educational content and is accompanied by a brief summary, associated learning points, references and suggested student activities.

Developed by the Medical Schools Council and the Society of Academic Primary Care Heads of GP Teaching Group, VPC has been designed to provide vital support to medical students training in a changed primary care environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resource uses video consultations provided by the award winning TV production company Knickerbockerglory, producers of the Channel 5 television series GPs: Behind Closed Doors.

VPC is available to all UK medical schools as part of their membership of the Medical Schools Council. For licensing and security reasons, VPC is not in the public domain but available only to member medical schools.

Further details can be found here.   Eligible GP tutors and medical students can request  individual access via their local undergraduate GP teaching department.


Joe Rosenthal

Alex Harding

Jane Kirby