Teaching GP early can inspire med students

3 minute read

A new second-year subject at University of Melbourne explores the complexities of care transition.

A course about the complexities of good clinical transfer might sound like an unlikely way to ignite a dormant passion for general practice in medical students, but the University of Melbourne is giving it a go.

And early results indicate that it could actually work.

“I was 90% sure I wasn’t going to be a GP before this placement,” one student is reported as saying.

“After completing it, I am 90% sure I will be!”

“Making healthcare work – from home to hospital and back again” is the brainchild of GP and lecturer Dr Roisin Bhamjee.

The new second-year subject is part of the redesigned University of Melbourne Doctor of Medicine course and sits alongside increased student placements in general practice and a general practice research elective.

As part of the elective unit, med students are expected to “build an understanding … of [the] complexities of discharge processes, patient perspectives, and common clinical pitfalls in care transfer through immersive practical placements”.

It takes place over a four-week intensive block, where students do a mixture of online, self-directed learning, face-to-face classes and practicals.

“In their second week, they did short hospital placements that were close to the community side of things,” Dr Bhamjee told The Medical Republic.

“So that was like hospital in the home – students really enjoyed experiencing delivering care outside of the walls of a hospital and … seeing patients and their families in their home was a really, really enriching experience for students.”

Other students were placed with rehabilitation teams, medical assessment units, allied health outreach services or even with hospital GP liaison officers.

There was also a second week of placement that students spent with community GPs.

“It was [able] to help students to fill in some of the gaps that they’ve maybe seen after their first year – [like] how the two systems link in,” Dr Bhamjee said.

“I think as well, it was … putting the focus onto integrated care and having a strong primary care foundation and showcasing primary care as a foundational element of a good healthcare system.”

And yes, there was a portion dedicated to discharge summaries.

“These will be our future doctors and future leaders and when the patients are moving from the hospital system to primary care [we wanted to put emphasis on the fact] that this is more of a handover,” she said.

“It’s giving them some key fundamentals and principles of how you do a safe transition of care.”

Making healthcare work was just one of nine available electives for second-year students. Other topics include “Communicating with the machine”, “Death and dying: when is dead really dead?” and “On country for health”.

University of Melbourne isn’t the only medical school to try and make GP-friendly changes to its curriculum this year: in May, the University of Sydney launched its General Practice Clinical school.

As part of the USyd course, second-year med students are required to do a one-day-per-week placement in general practice over 16 weeks and another eight-week full time block in their second year.

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