Help train the GPs of the future

Prof Mike Cawthorne, right, with Prof John Clapham in the University of Buckingham's Clore Laboratory
Prof Mike Cawthorne, right, with Prof John Clapham in the University of Buckingham's Clore Laboratory

Patients at a GP practice will be helping train the doctors of the future.

After a report in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) highlighted an alarming shortfall in the number of new GPs entering the medical workforce, the University of Buckingham is ahead of the game in its plans to train the next generation of family doctors.

With a survey finding that six out of 10 GPs were considering early retirement and hundreds of GP trainee posts left vacant this year, British Medical Association (BMA) spokesman Harrison Carter said: “It is very important that students are exposed to adequate GP placements during medical school, as this provides added value to a student’s medical school experience by giving them more devoted teaching and an understanding of dealing with an ageing population that general practice has a lead role in caring for.

“More people are being treated in the community and more people would like to be treated in the community. It is vital the next generation of doctors gain experience of this vital aspect of modern-day healthcare.”

At the University of Buckingham’s new Medical School, which opens in January, the course has been designed to bring students face to face with real-life patients right from the start, alongside their GP.

Prof Mike Cawthorne, who is heading up the new medical school, said: “The University of Buckingham has engaged with 21 GP practices within the Buckingham/Milton Keynes area.

“Prof Gregory Simons from the Swan Practice in Buckingham is the GP lead on our teaching programme and he is playing a major role in the development of clinical skills training.

“The University of Buckingham course is deliberately designed to train primary care physicians as well as the future consultants in secondary care.

“In contrast to a number of medical schools where students do not meet patients until Year 3 , the Buckingham students will see their first patient with a GP on Day 3 of their first week of the course.

“The medical school opens with 66 students on January 5.

“All students joining the course exceeded the academic threshold and their performance in a selection process consisting of a series of mini-interviews designed around the qualities needed to become tomorrow’s doctors was again over the required threshold.

“Students came to Buckingham from as far as Australia to the selection event.

“A third of the students are international and the remainder from the UK.”