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Fam Pract. 2002 Apr;19(2):183-8.

Patients' views and feelings on the community-based teaching of undergraduate medical students: a qualitative study.

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City Road Medical Centre, 190 City Road, London EC1V 2QH, UK.



The 1993 directive Tomorrow's Doctors recommended an increase in community-based teaching. In response, many new programmes have been established focusing on the teaching of clinical skills to pairs or groups of students in general practice, when patients are asked to see the students in the practice or in their homes, specifically to assist with teaching. This differs from the traditional model of teaching primary care, when one student sits with the doctor while s/he consults. Although current research suggests that patients are happy for one student to be present during a consultation with their GP, little or nothing is known about their views of this new method of teaching basic clinical skills in the community. If the new community-based teaching programmes are to be sustainable, continuing support from the patients is necessary. Students have been taught clinical skills in the community at University College London Medical School for several years. Research has demonstrated its effectiveness and its popularity with students. However, to date, patients' views have not been explored.


Our aim was to determine the patients' views and feelings on community-based teaching, in order to discover both the positive and negative aspects for participating patients.


A qualitative semi-structured interview study was carried out in undergraduate teaching general practices in North London.


Respondents felt very positive about participating in the community-based teaching programme. There were two underlying components to this: altruism and personal gain. Within altruism, reasons included: provision of a service to the community and repaying the system. Aspects of personal gain included: improved knowledge, improved self-esteem and companionship. Patient concerns included: embarrassment, reinforcement of the sick role and concerns about student access to notes.


Patients enjoy their involvement in community-based teaching and perceive themselves as making a valuable contribution. The findings of the research will be reassuring for doctors who presently are involved and those who plan to be involved in the future. Doctors need to be aware of the possible shifts in the doctor-patient relationship when actively seeking patients' help in the teaching.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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