Letters, calls and emails: GP trainers need more time to teach students

Dear Editor

As a final-year undergraduate, I can safely say I have covered almost all aspects of the core medical curriculum.  

I will soon be approaching finals and will (fingers crossed) subsequently embark on my house job as a newly qualified, supposedly confident doctor.  

However the real truth of the matter is the confidence that I should have gained over the years is actually scarce and at times, non existent. This is the case because of a lack of time.  

During clinical years, a great deal of time is spent at community attachments under the supervision of GPs willing to take us on board. The aim is to see patients at first hand and gain a fuller understanding of primary care.  

However the evident time constraints on the GPs are a major problem. Their primary aim is to focus on the patient. However what with revalidation, audits, quality targets and practice-based commissioning it is no wonder they are stretched.  

It is all well and good to undergo such placements but with doctors under such time pressure, students’ learning can suffer.  

Doctors try to take a few minutes during clinic consultations for a discussion on cases they deem relevant and allow for the odd history taking/examination here and there, but they compromise their schedule in doing so.  

I believe that trainers should be allocated time out of their daily surgery routine to teach during a student’s placement. They should also be exempt, to a certain extent, from those added contract demands.  

This time spent focused on the students would be time well spent.  

One of the best ways of understanding medicine is clinicians’ experience. Books and guidelines only go so far.  

Neel Sharma  

Fifth-year medical student, Manchester 

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