First 6 months GP Placement Teaching

During your introductory 6 months in General Practice, you will be expected to attend the half day release course on most Thursdays. This is an opportunity for you to work with colleagues at the same stage as yourself, to understand and develop the complex and demanding skills required by the competent GP. These are tested in the MRCGP: you will be required to demonstrate a broad understanding of a range of issues, of which the purely clinical aspect of medicine is only one. The emphasis in the teaching group is on analysing and improving these wider skills, which are necessary both in every consultation and also in working within a multidisciplinary team.

It can feel strange and threatening at first to be exposed to the huge variety of medical and social conditions that patients present, and you may well start out by feeling anxious that you don´t know enough about each subspecialty of medicine that you encounter. You will certainly need to absorb a lot of information during your time as a GP trainee. However, the key to being a good GP is not to know everything; it is to have a clear grasp of the essentials that will make you safe, to know how to find the information your patients need, and to be able to develop appropriately trusting relationships with both patients and colleagues.

There are 2 main themes to the introductory course. For part of each afternoon you will have the opportunity to analyse and reflect on your experiences of patients and practice team members, with other junior doctors in their first practice. You will be able to hear how others might feel or act in a similar situation, and to consider how you might manage things differently another time. You will soon find that there is a bewildering array of alternative approaches to dealing with common situations, even though all our training practices are working to similar guidelines and standards in the medical management of patients. It is particularly important to develop your ability to share making decisions with others as equal partners, and to plan ahead while remaining flexible, as each situation unfolds. The course helps you to be aware of how to manage your stress successfully, to enable you to find the challenges of General Practice satisfying, and to avoid burnout.

Communicating effectively with patients is a key skill for General Practice, and one which is tested to a challenging level in MRCGP. There is also good evidence that most complaints from patients occur as a result of poor communication. Part of each afternoon is devoted to understanding the central importance of how you can organise and manage each consultation better. Through a combination of theoretical presentations, videos and interactive work, you will develop your understanding and skills in working with patients, in a safe setting. You will of course be developing this with your trainers in the practices too, but working as part of a group enables you to observe how very differently yet competently other doctors handle a consultation. There is a great deal to learn from experiencing and discussing one another´s styles.

The 2 themes of learning from each other in a group, and working on communication and consultations, can leave relatively little space for other work, although this does depend on the size of the group. The structure of the hospital group is more flexible, and works on registrar led educational sessions to a very large extent.

Our course is designed to help you become a skilled and competent independent GP, and to be successful in the MRCGP. We are confident that GPs graduating from the Sheffield GPSTP are well-equipped to cope with the challenges of modern General Practice.

Updated Sandra Brinkley
December 2011