Early undergraduate Primary Care training: Medical Students’ attitudes towards increasing clinical exposure
Educators at The University of Nottingham propose increasing undergraduate medical student experience in Primary Care from four half days to six full days in each of their first two years, hoping to better contextualise students’ learning during an integrated science-based curriculum. Current early clinical experience in UK schools varies from 4 days to 65 days. Early exposure of undergraduate students to general practice has been shown to enhance student learning opportunities, with minimal impact on patient care, and positive clinician-educator outcomes. The presence of a high quality, integrated primary care programme throughout a medical degree has also been shown to influence later career decisions. We intend to investigate undergraduate students’ attitudes and opinions towards their learning experiences in GP settings and a proposed increase to their exposure to Primary Care. We will seek council regarding proposed models of teaching that an increase in exposure will permit.
We plan to recruit twenty Nottingham medical students through internal email advertisements before running semi-structured focus groups of 6-8 participants themed around contact time and the opportunities Primary Care attachments provide for unique, practical and holistic learning. Students from different stages of the programme will be recruited. Students in the early years of the course will be able to provide more ‘recent’ perspectives on early clinical exposure. Students from the later years will be able to add the perspective of having had a greater amount of clinical experience. Anonymised verbatim transcripts will be analysed qualitatively using a constant comparative approach.
The study outcomes are pending. We have ethical approval to commence our study, and anticipate initial focus group data being available by end-March 2017.
Findings from the focus groups will help inform the development of the new curriculum, and will also be useful to other schools seeking to increase or adapt their early clinical exposure in primary care.