Skip to main content

Teaching Medical Students: A View from the Community

Dr Elizabeth Pearson from the the Fulham Medical Centre gives her perspectives on teaching medical students 

I have been a partner for 10 years in a small practice with 7,000 patients in Fulham. I started undergraduate teaching almost as soon as I qualified as I felt that students get such a short time in general practice and wanted to be part of making it a positive experience.

What inspired you to start teaching?
We all remember a good teacher and when I was training at the Royal Free I had a fantastic placement with a GP in Yorkshire. Even though it was only for 3 weeks it made me change my career choice from surgeon to GP! While working in the hospitals I got fed up with doctors speaking down to GPs and complaining about them referring everything etc. Some of my friends went into General Practice as they couldn't be bothered to stick at hospital work which really irritated me as I never saw it is as a negative fall-back option but a positive career choice which can be really rewarding.

How does teaching fit in with your clinical practice?
Teaching also keeps me on my toes and encourages me to keep up-to-date with NICE guidelines, changes in prescribing advice, advances in diabetic medicine etc. Teaching Imperial College London students who are all incredibly bright means they often ask very intelligent questions about my treatment plans which can help me think through what I have decided and why. When students sit in I always try and use consultation models to show them what to ask in a concise, structured way which gets me into good habits and I feel my consultations run very smoothly most of the time.

How do you obtain patient consent?
My practice always has a notice up warning patients I have a student with me and reception warn them too. When I open my door to greet a new patient I quickly get verbal consent and often tell the patients they get two brains for the price of one which makes them chuckle! I plan my surgeries with a couple of catch up slots in my busy morning surgery and I try and have 15 min appointments in the afternoon when I ask the students to take the histories. This works better than the students trying to take a history under pressure during the emergency morning clinic. We do quick feedback after each consultation they do and then run though each one in detail after the surgery. Sometimes if I am running late and a patient attends with an interesting history I find a quiet room for the student to talk to them for 10-15 mins while I quickly try and catch up.

Tell us an anecdote about an interesting experience with a student
In my surgery we look after some elderly war veterans and their wives and once a student visited a patient at his home and spent a couple of hours being fed beef stew and dumplings and discussing the Dunkirk landings. It turned out his grandfather had died at Dunkirk at the same time so he found it fascinating to speak to someone who had lived through what his grandfather had experienced. It showed me yet again that being a GP allows you to meet so many fascinating people you may never have come across in other jobs and that is such an enormous privilege. My student was clearly very moved and grateful for the opportunity to meet such a remarkable man and to hear how PTSD affects people many, many years after the event.

Any tips for new teachers?
I would advise all GPs to consider teaching undergraduates as you get a chance to make an impact on a futures doctor's view of General Practice and so even if they don't become a GP they will at least appreciate all the hard work and difficult decisions we have to make under pressure all day every day

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A View from the Community - Dr Dana Beale

As part of our View from the Community series of articles, our Year 6 Specialty Choice Lead Dr Ros Herbert interviewed community teacher Dr Dana Beale, to get the inside track on what it's like being a community teacher for Imperial College. To read more articles like this, please sign up to our newsletter by emailing b.broglia@imperial.ac.uk

Dana, tell me what first got you interested in homeless medicine? "Incredibly I was inspired by the same module I did as a student at Imperial College that I am now teaching on! Back then it was 'medical and social care of the homeless' and was based at the surgery for the homeless in Great Chapel Street - a fabulous service that showed me that primary care tailored to this vulnerable and challenging group existed and I promised myself there and then that I would return to work in this field."

What makes you so enthusiastic about this work? "I find this line of work a breath of fresh air; at times incredibly challenging …

Introducing the WATCCH Project - Widening Access to Careers in Community Healthcare

The Undergraduate Primary Care Education team in the Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial College London has kicked off an exciting new work experience programme called WATCCH – Widening Access to Careers in Community Healthcare.
There is a shortage of work experience in the health sector for pupils, particularly for those who have no connection to healthcare professionals. WATCCH aims to open up work experience opportunities in the healthcare sector by offering placements for sixth form pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to shadow various allied healthcare professionals in general practices. These 16/17 year olds have completed their GCSEs with good grades, do not have placements elsewhere, and are the first in their family applying to university. 
Pupils will attend a pre-placement induction at Imperial College's Charing Cross Hospital Campus, and will then have a 3-day work experience session at a general practice where they will observe a variety of allie…

What makes a good placement?

In the New Year, Dr Kevin Patel a GP ST3 on the Imperial VTS, takes a reflective look at the factors that go into making a good clinical attachment for trainees.
As GP trainees we are ‘encouraged’ to reflect; challenging encounters with patients, conversations with colleagues that could have gone better, moments when you felt like you were born to do this job. All of this is good fodder for your ePortfolio.
Not one to miss out on a reflective opportunity, I took a step back from a discussion that was taking place about difficult rotations, a conversation I imagine that is oft-repeated amongst GPs and hospital doctors up and down the country, and thought about how we could use our experience as GP trainees to feed into this.
As trainees we rotate into diverse placements, from paediatrics to public health to care of the elderly. I counted at least 15 distinct departments I have worked in since finishing medical school just over 5 years ago. This is more than any other specialty trainee…