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Student perceptions of GP teachers' role in surgical education

In a study published in JRSM Short Reports, Sian Powell and Graham Easton from the Department of Primary Care & Public Health at Imperial College evaluated medical students' perceptions of a new community-based surgical module being delivered as part of the third-year clinical methods teaching (CMT) course at Imperial College London.

They carried out focus group interviews with medical students who had recently completed the surgical module. Two groups of fourth-year medical students were invited to participate in the focus groups. The first group consisted of seven students from the surgery and Anaesthesia BSc course. The second group consisted of a random sample of five students from other BSc courses at Imperial College.

Students' opinions of surgical teaching delivered in the community compared favourably with the surgical teaching delivered in hospitals. Students identified the key benefits as:
  • having protected time to learn
  • regular access to suitable patients
  • teaching that was more learner-centred
Challenges identified by students included GPs' lack of specialist knowledge and teaching that was dictated by individual interests rather than the syllabus. Hence, providing training for teachers would  be a key factor in ensuring quality of surgical teaching for all students.

The authors commented that community-based teaching has been widely used to deliver teaching traditionally taught in hospital settings. However, surgical skills are still taught largely by surgical specialists within hospitals. The study findings suggests that students are receptive to GPs teaching surgical topics in the community and perceive GPs as competent teachers. Hence, there may be benefits in delivering traditional surgical modules in community settings.

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