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BMC Fam Pract. 2016 Sep 15;17(1):135. doi: 10.1186/s12875-016-0532-x.

Impact of the primary care curriculum and its teaching formats on medical students' perception of primary care: a cross-sectional study.

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Primary Care Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Rue Michel Servet 11, Geneva 4, 1211, Switzerland.
Primary Care Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Rue Michel Servet 11, Geneva 4, 1211, Switzerland.
Institute of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lausanne, Rue du Bugnon 44, Lausanne, 1011, Switzerland.



Switzerland is facing an impending primary care workforce crisis since almost half of all primary care physicians are expected to retire in the next decade. Only a minority of medical students choose a primary care specialty, further deepening the workforce shortage. It is therefore essential to identify ways to promote the choice of a primary care career. The aim of the present study was to explore students' views about the undergraduate primary care teaching curriculum and different teaching formats, and to evaluate the possible impact of these views on students' perceptions of primary care.


We surveyed fifth year medical students from the Medical Faculties in Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland (n = 285) with a four sections electronic questionnaire. We carried out descriptive analyses presented as frequencies for categorical data, and means and/or medians for continuous data.


The response rate was 43 %. Overall, primary care teaching had a positive impact on students' image of primary care. In Lausanne, primary care curricular components were rated more positively than in Geneva. Curricular components that were not part of the primary care teaching, but were nevertheless cited by some students, were frequently perceived as having a negative impact.


The primary care curriculum at Lausanne and Geneva Universities positively influences students' perceptions of this discipline. However, there are shortcomings in both the structure and the content of both the primary care and hidden curriculum that may contribute to perpetuating a negative image of this specialization.


Career choice; Cross-sectional; Hidden curriculum; Primary care; Switzerland; Undergraduate medical education

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