GP trainer - Teaching opportunities for GPs

There has never been a better time for GPs to get involved in teaching, writes Dr Anuradha Arasu

Teaching encourages GPs to practise more reflectively and brings variety to their day-to-day work (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)
Teaching encourages GPs to practise more reflectively and brings variety to their day-to-day work (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)

There has never been a better time for GPs to get involved with teaching. The GMC paper Tomorrow's Doctors emphasises the benefits of GPs teaching medical students within the community and the need for more GPs to become teachers. This means there are plenty of opportunities for more GPs, including salaried and locum GPs, to enter this stimulating and rewarding field.

Why teach?
GPs can feel isolated, especially recently qualified GPs. Teaching can help combat this because GPs involved with teaching have been shown to have markedly improved morale, and this correlates directly with the amount of teaching they do.

There is no doubt that this morale boost is in part due to the contact with young students but teaching also reinforces knowledge and clinical skills that can lead to measurable emotional benefit.

Having students encourages GPs to practice more reflectively themselves and brings variety to their day-to-day work. All of these things can help protect against burnout.

Also, working at a practice involved in teaching has a number of advantages. Teaching practices gain a financial benefit and the deanery may even fund improvement to the premises. There is also a certain amount of 'kudos' attached to training practices which in itself provides a stimulus to maintain clinical standards and encourage robust record keeping, and helps keeps all doctors in touch with new developments.

In addition, your patients will be happy to get involved. Studies have shown that patients enjoy their involvement in teaching as it provides the opportunity for longer consultations and to learn more about their conditions, which gives them a better insight into their illness.

If you are a GP interested in teaching medical students in your practice, you can start by making contact with your local university medical school. The university should be able to offer you the training needed for you to get your name on its list of registered GP tutors.

Once you have been added to a university's list of GP tutors it will allocate you medical students each term. Accommodating students at your practice does require some organisation, namely 'patient finding' for teaching and the use of a consulting room for the allotted teaching session.

Establish the terms under which you will be paid. In some universities it is possible to work on a completely sessional basis with no fixed contract, whereas in others there may be a contract under which you are employed by the university.

If you are working full time and considering doing a teaching session in lieu of a clinical session, it may be possible to use your pay to reimburse the practice to cover locum costs, but bear in mind that the pay may not be equivalent to the cost of a locum.

The situation is much easier if you are working part-time and can teach in addition to, rather than instead of, a clinical session.

Opportunities for locums
Even if you are a locum GP and not attached to one fixed practice, there are still ways to get involved in teaching medical students. A new pilot scheme for GPs to teach medical students from Barts and the London School of Medicine was set up in September 2010 and is running successfully. In the scheme, host practices which have rooms left empty on certain afternoons hire a salaried GP to come in and teach medical students for a session. Since host practices would be reimbursed for both teaching and facilities, both the salaried GP and the host practice benefit financially while developing their professional skills.

The salaried GP will meet a GP mentor from the host practice, who will be their contact should any problems arise. The mentor will show them around the premises and provide them with a list of professional patients (patients suitable for teaching medical students who have consented to being contacted for teaching purposes).

The salaried GP then contacts patients for scheduled teaching sessions. The salaried GP will have a six-month and an annual review meeting with their GP mentor to troubleshoot any problems that may have occurred.

In summary, there are plenty of opportunities for GPs to get involved in the rewarding work of teaching. If this is something that might interest you, start by contacting your local medical school who will be able to point you in the right direction.

CPD IMPACT: EARN MORE CREDITS

These further action points may allow you to earn more credits by increasing the time spent and the impact achieved.

  • Hold a practice meeting to discuss becoming a training practice. Consider the implications for the whole practice and whether you have the facilities available to accommodate students.
  • Consider the skills needed to be a good teacher. Do you have these skills and are there any areas that may need improvement? Consider training to develop these skills.
  • Speak to a colleague who is already teaching and find out whether teaching has improved their enjoyment of work and also their clinical practice.

Save this article and add notes with your free online CPD organiser at gponline.com/cpd Take clinical tests and claim certificates for CPD at myCME.com

  • Dr Arasu is a GP registrar in London
  • If you are a salaried GP keen to teach or a practice keen to host teaching and want to get involved in the pilot scheme, email b.carnevale@qmulac.uk

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