An exploration of medical students’ perceptions of being taught by GP specialty trainees (GPSTs)

Talk Code: 
E Walker
Author institutions: 
Newcastle University


Increasing medical school numbers and the identification of primary care as an ideal place for students to learn has meant an increase in the teaching capacity is required. The current shortage, however, makes this challenging and the use of GPSTs (General Practice Specialty Trainees) as teachers may present a partial solution to this. Many potential benefits of GPSTs being involved in teaching have been discussed in previous studies as well as several possible barriers to this.


To explore medical students’ perceptions of being taught by GPSTs, in order to understand how GPSTs can best contribute to undergraduate teaching.

The Approach

This study took a post-positivist stance to the phenomenon, using a qualitative approach to address the research questions. Qualitative data were collected from three focus groups with ten participants in years three and four at Newcastle Medical School to explore their perceptions of GPSTs as teachers. Transcripts of these focus groups were then analysed thematically.


Five main themes and ten sub-themes were produced from the data. These captured participants’ views on the characteristics of GPSTs as teachers they valued, the potential concerns about GPSTs as teachers, the contrasting characteristics of GPs as teachers, the GPSTs influence on student’s career intentions, and generic teaching comments.


Medical students value teaching by GPSTs and identified many benefits to this near-peer teaching that suggest this should be implemented more widely. These identified benefits agree with much of the previous literature on GPSTs as teachers but also contrast with some previously identified concerns about GPSTs as teachers suggesting medical students do not perceive these concerns to be problematic as other stakeholders. This study provides more evidence to increase the use of GPST teachers in primary care with recommendations as to how this might be achieved.