The Condensed Curriculum Guide: The GP curriculum as a teaching aid

In the third of our series of extracts from The Condensed Curriculum Guide, Dr Ben Riley and Dr Jayne Haynes explain using the curriculum in teaching.

The ability to teach is not only important for trainers; GPs in training benefit hugely from opportunities to develop their teaching and mentoring skills. This could be running activities with other trainees, supervising medical students or teaching other health professionals in the practice. Many aspects of the new RCGP curriculum make it a useful teaching tool.

Model of learning
The new RCGP curriculum includes a 'learning and teaching guide', which proposes a model of learning for general practice.

This combines balance and diversity in the learning situations used, clear learning outcomes encompassing what is expected of a GP and recognition of the needs of GPs as adult learners.

The curriculum as a teaching resource
The 32 statements of the curriculum can be used as learning materials to resource a range of educational activities (see box). Each statement contains detailed background information on the particular topic and sources of further information.

A comprehensive list of GP topics commonly covered in teaching sessions, matched to the relevant curriculum statements, can be found in The Condensed Curriculum Guide.

Addressing training difficulties
The curriculum is also a useful tool for addressing training issues.First, the competency for which the issue arises needs to be identified. The individual learning outcomes necessary to perform that competency should then be reviewed, and the learner's problem pinned down to the lack of a particular item of knowledge, skill or attitudinal issue, or a combination of these.

Spiral learning
Learning based on the curriculum should be a spiral activity. Spiral learning involves revisiting areas of the curriculum on several occasions as training progresses, each time focusing in greater depth.

Each time an area is revisited, the learner reviews what was previously learned and reinforces the recognition of important patterns, thereby gaining a greater awareness of what determines their decisions and achieving a more complex understanding.

The role of the trainer
One of the greatest influences on a trainee remains the example set by their trainer. The Condensed Curriculum Guide provides advice on the practical aspects of training in general practice, including how to establish a good training environment, what aspects should be covered in the first few weeks, and the role of the trainer in the new MRCGP assessments.

Training to achieve competence
Since the first vocational training schemes started in the 1960s, general practice training has become progressively trainee-centred. Emphasis has fallen increasingly on active learning of expertise rather than the passive acquisition of knowledge.

Both the curriculum and the nMRCGP assessments focus on the demonstration of clinical competence, rather than on the ability to retain and recall facts. We will explore the nMRCGP assessments further in next week's article.

Find all the resources you need to meet the learning requirements of the RCGP curriculum on our GP Curriculum Centre

Dr Riley is a GP in Oxfordshire and RCGP curriculum development fellow and Dr Haynes is also a GP in Oxfordshire

Learning Points

  • How the curriculum can aid teaching
  • The curriculum suggests a model of learning based on its learning outcomes.
  • The curriculum can be used as a teaching resource around individual statements.
  • Training difficulties can be identified by reviewing the competences and learning outcomes of the relevant statement.
  • Learning based on the curriculum builds and becomes more sophisticated as the statements are revisited.
  • Using a curriculum statement to resource a teaching session

A 10-point teaching plan:

  1. Start the session and establish rapport with the learner(s).
  2. Clarify the learners' agenda (and the teacher's agenda).
  3. Review the key messages, rationale and UK priorities described in the Acknowledgements and Introduction sections.
  4. Identify the main issues for that statement and set them in the context of everyday practice. In the Men's Health statement this could include the influence of men's health beliefs on their consultation rate.
  5. Explore the learners' suggestions of how to tackle these issues and give feedback.
  6. Record any learning needs that arise.
  7. Review the competences and learning outcomes described for each of the curriculum domains in the Learning Outcomes section.
  8. Identify any unmet learning outcomes.
  9. Plan future learning activities.
  10. Summarise and conclude the session.


The Condensed Curriculum Guide, RCGP 2007

by Dr Ben Riley, Dr Jayne Haynes and Professor Steve Field

The Condensed Curriculum Guide is the official guidebook to the RCGP curriculum.

It is available from the RCGP Bookshop. Online: Phone: (020) 7581 3232; fax: (020) 7581 8154. RCGP members and associates receive a 10 per cent discount when ordering this book.

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