First-Year medical students will get more experience of “real life” healthcare situations as part of new measures by Aberdeen University to tackle the GP crisis.
Students will have the chance to attend real calls with out-of-hours doctors, work alongside GPs in practices and visit and speak to care home residents as part of a bid to encourage more people to pursue a career as a GP in Scotland.
In May this year the Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland warned the country faced a shortfall of 856 family doctors by 2021.
All medical students will be invited to take part in the new GP Enhanced programme at Aberdeen University, with 32 given the chance to attend extra sessions within a GP practice.
Dr John McKeown, head of general practice and community medical education at the university, said: “This is the widest range of ‘real life’ healthcare opportunities we’ve ever offered to our first-year medical students.
“The idea behind the initiative is quite simple. We know that being a GP is a fantastically challenging and rewarding career and the sooner we can expose our students to this exciting vocation, the more likely they are to specialise in this area.
“The shortage of GPs is a huge problem with major implications for communities that will be felt nowhere more acutely than in the north of Scotland. Anything we can do to make clear the benefits of a career as a GP to our students has to be a step in the right direction.”
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The programme builds on initiatives from the university to encourage medical students to focus on a career as a GP early in their studies. For the past three years a group of first-year students have spent two days in locations such as Aviemore, Deeside and Orkney, speaking to those working in rural practices and seeing first-hand the benefits of living and working in the countryside.
Among the new features, students will have the opportunity to spend a 10-hour weekend shift with a GMED GP or Advanced Nurse Practitioner observing both hospital consults and home visits.
They will also spend time with residents of care homes throughout Aberdeen where they will receive an introduction into residential care in the community and practise taking a history from a resident.
The students will spend whole days at specially identified “enhanced practices” where they will meet patients and staff and receive specialised GP-delivered training on care in the community and clinical skills.
The programme will continue throughout the five years of the course, giving students increasing opportunities in general practice as they progress through their studies.