Book Review - General Practice Specialty Training

Dr Alison Glenesk looks at how to gain the most from this detailed and practical guide for GP trainers and educators.

I was in the process of reading this book when I was asked to review it for GP. I have to confess that I was finding it a little indigestible, and had laid it aside hoping for further inspiration.

It certainly looks as though it should be required reading for anyone involved in GP training.

In the preface, Dr Bill Reith points out that the authors are those who have been most involved in developing the RCGP curriculum and assessment process.

The first chapter gives an overview of GP training. It then moves on to a summary of the assessment process, followed by a very illuminating attempt by Dr Nav Chana at integrating teaching and assessment, then roles and responsibilities of clinical and educational supervisors.

Chapters 6 and 7 look at learning in a more theoretical way, with practical advice on giving feedback, while Chapter 8 explores how to use the new curriculum to structure teaching.

Structured teaching
The workplace-based assessment, specifically the case-based discussion and the consultation observation tool, are also covered. The former was a moment of epiphany for me - I discovered I had been trying to look at too many competences, instead of just concentrating on finding evidence for a selected few.

With some relief I moved on to chapters on the CSA and AKT, then multi-source feedback, and how to use the results to give learner-centred feedback.

Chapter 15 'Planning learning in the new curriculum' had me a little confused, because at least two of the preceding chapters seemed to promise the same content. However, the emphasis in this chapter is on motivating learners to recognise their own educational needs and plan their own learning.

On the face of it, this book can hardly fail, covering all theoretical and practical considerations of modern GP training from both the educators' and trainees' points of view. The timing is appropriate too - we have all grasped the nuts and bolts of the ePortfolio and the nMRCGP and should be ready take our teaching to a higher level.

The authors have attempted to make the often complex material as reader-friendly as possible. Most chapters start with a brief overview and many end with a summary.

Personally, I would have found the occasional case-study useful, as I find information easier to grasp when related to a particular person or incident, but this is a minor quibble.

So why did I give up the first time? I think the answer lies in the book's format - the fact that it is written by 13 authors, all of whom are intimately connected with their subject matter.

This means that each chapter is an essay in itself, which has to be read, reflected on and implemented. I commend this book to you, but do not try to read it novel-style, as I did.

Pick a relevant chapter, read carefully, and try to integrate some of the concepts into your teaching. I have just inspired myself to have another go.

  • Dr Glenesk is a GP trainer in Aberdeen.
Book giveaway

GP and the RCGP are giving away five copies of General Practice Specialty Training: Making it happen, edited by Dr Kay Mohanna and Professor Abdol Tavabie, worth £24.95 each.

For a chance to win a copy, email with your name and address by 15 May 2009.

If you are unlucky in the book draw then you can order a copy directly from the RCGP bookshop at the price of £24.95.

T: (020) 7344 3198

F: (020) 7581 3232

RCGP members receive a 10% discount on all bookshop purchases.

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