Skip to main content

A medical student from Imperial College London describes how her GP Tutor became a role model for her

Medical student Nell Freeman from Imperial College London describes how the third year of the medical course can be tough for students and how the GP who was her Clinical Methods Teacher was a role model to her and taught her much more than just clinical history and examination techniques.

"I hadn’t anticipated the emotional challenge of medicine. I found – narcissistically – that patients I could closely identify with, I carried home with me. I didn't quite know what to do with these emotions. 

I watched my GP teachers, some of whom had relationships with their patients for more than 20 years, being able to professionally help them navigate their health challenges while still maintaining a very personal, human connection with them, but then being able to close the door and open it again to a new patient. Our teacher let us debrief about our experiences and discuss these challenges.

I think the challenge of the third year at Imperial College is learning to accept how very hard medicine can be, but that the difficulties are completely different from the way we were anticipating – and nothing to do with being ever being able to memorize the Kreb’s Cycle or the flexor muscles of the hand. The best teachers I have had are the ones who have been honest about what they found and still find difficult and were willing to share how they manage it - teachers who role model how to begin to integrate the clinical side with the human side of being a good doctor."


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

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…