Reflections on the Student Symposium for Research in General Practice 2021

On Saturday 18th September 2021, I attended the Student Symposium for Research in General Practice (SSRGP), a virtual conference organised by students, for students, in support by the Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). The day was designed to be an introduction to the world of research and academia in general practice and to help break down barriers for students to enable them to get involved in research. Registration for the conference was free which, along with it being held online via Zoom, made it extremely accessible for medical students. There were a variety of talks delivered throughout the day from academic GPs in varying stages of their careers, speaking about different areas of interest. Their talks, and the following Q+A sessions, helped to give a valuable insight into the world of academic general practice, as well as providing practical tips on how to get involved in research.

I was invited, along with some other medical students, to give an oral presentation during the conference, talking about a piece of research that I had completed the previous year as a part of my intercalated degree in Medical Sciences Research. I really enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to present my work live in front of a (virtual) audience, as it was something I had never done before. The seven-minute presentation challenged me to summarise my project concisely and clearly, and it was really rewarding to be able to share my work both with my peers and with doctors with experience in research. Additionally, I was honoured to receive the award for Best Oral Presentation at this event (an award funded by SAPC). We were advised by the judges that the standard of submitted abstracts, and then the posters and presentations was extremely high.

I initially heard about this event through my role as the Vice-President of the University of Sheffield’s GP Society, as we partnered with the SSRGP team to promote the event to our members. General practice is a career path in which I have an interest, so I considered submitting my work as an abstract, discussed it with my supervisor and began to write it up. It can be challenging to find the confidence to submit your work for a conference, but for anyone who is unsure I would encourage them to go for it, as you never know what opportunities you might gain from the experience!

I worked within a research team at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust. The research explored decision-making in chronic disease, using qualitative methods with semi-structured interviews with people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) to gain an understanding of factors which contribute to decision-preparedness, as well as barriers to confidence when making decisions about care. The provision of care for people with long term conditions such as IBD is complex; we identified multiple factors that may influence decision-making, which can vary over time. The take-home message centred around the importance of prioritising the patient’s own values and preferences, to facilitate a positive patient-clinician relationship and effective shared decision-making. It was really meaningful to be able to share this message, one which I believe is of real significance, with those who attended the SSRGP conference.

Overall, I really enjoyed attending and speaking at this conference, and would definitely encourage other medical students to consider getting involved in a future SSRGP conference whether it be submitting their own research or attending the talks throughout the day, as it offers an excellent opportunity to learn more about research in general practice. Encouraging medical students to learn more about academic general practice and, more widely, research as part of a portfolio career, is crucial to ensure that the future of medicine is evidence-based and ever-evolving, and I feel as though this conference was, and will continue to be, a huge step towards this goal. I’d like to thank the SSRGP team for organising such an informative, engaging and smoothly run conference, as well as my project supervisor and the participants who contributed to my research, without whom this would not have been possible.


Lydia Grinsted Tate

(4th year medical student, University of Sheffield)