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Fam Pract. 2011 Jun;28(3):287-93. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmq102. Epub 2011 Jan 11.

Who determines the patient mix of GP trainees? The role of the receptionist.

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Division of Clinical Methods and Public Health, Department of General Practice, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



During their specialty training, Dutch GP trainees work at a GP under the supervision of a GP trainer. Research suggests that the patient mix of GP trainees differs from that of their trainers. Receptionists assign patients to either the trainee or the trainer, thereby influencing the patient mix of the trainees. The decision to which doctor to assign is complex and depends on the latitude the receptionists have. Their considerations when assigning patients are unknown.


To study receptionists' assigning behaviour.


This was a questionnaire survey. To design the questionnaire, topics about assigning behaviour were identified in a focus group. The resulting questionnaire was sent to 478 GP training practices in the Netherlands.


Response rate was 68%. Of the receptionists, 95% asked for the reason for the consultation at least 'sometimes'. Most (86.3%) of the receptionists considered the patient mix of trainees and trainers to be similar. Almost all receptionists (97%) reported 'often' or 'always' assigning 'every possible problem' to the trainee and a similar picture arose regarding specific subpopulations. However, the receptionists reported that they assigned complex and new patients to the trainers more often than to trainees.


With some exceptions, receptionists try to assign trainees a varied patient mix.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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