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How a ‘GP-negative’ medical student changed his views on general practice

Andre Kubler PhD, a Final Year Medical Student at Imperial College London, describes how his academic placement in general practice changed his views about primary care

"GP-negativity’ is a common condition, characterized by a lack of respect for general practice and its practitioners. It results largely from the media’s portrayal of GPs as ‘money-grabbing, cancer-missing, part-time doctors’. Medical students are at particular risk of developing this condition because they spend the majority of their time with authoritative hospital physicians that criticize their generalist colleagues.

I was ‘GP-negative’ but my 3-week rotation in general practice cured me.


I was healed through professional treatment: I was welcomed to the practice and introduced to each member. I was given access to online notes, and invited to meetings. I was told to prepare for my clinics, asked my opinions and welcomed to over-booked clinics. I was treated as a member of the practice; and for the first time at medical school, I didn’t feel like a waste of someone else’s time, but a valuable future member of our profession. The difference between these clinicians and my previous teachers was that they saw a ‘medical student’ as a competent, intelligent and sensible future doctor.


They let me practice medicine: I reassured a patient that we referred under the two-week cancer wait rule, I discussed the possibility of an early miscarriage with a concerned young lady, I convinced children to let me stare at their pus-covered tonsils and I told their parents what I saw, and what it meant. I got things wrong, but they were easily corrected. The GPs embraced teaching into their clinical practice, making student-run consultations with supervision part of the patient’s care. Through real experience, I learned to respect the challenges of general practice and developed foundations on which to build all my future clinical practice. They worked me hard but I enjoyed every minute of it.


It is my hope that this example of a curative treatment for ‘GP-negativity’ through inclusion will motivate more GPs to embrace this practice.


We also discussed how we as teachers can become more conscious role models; making our inner thinking more explicit to students so they can see more of the ‘how and why’ of General Practice. The students described how they love this and it helps with their professional identity struggles."

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