Raising the academic profile of General Practice
As a General Practitioner/ Family Physician, I am excited about the diverse opportunities and vast potential of my career. It is however abundantly clear that General Practice is often not regarded as very academically robust because of the historic poor visibility of primary care academia.
Only 3% of medical students saw General Practice as intellectually challenging in the 'Destination GP’ survey by RCGP & Medical School Council. The Wass Report by Health Education England similarly found that medical students thought General Practice fails to offer enough academic challenges and suggests we are to make academic training in primary care more accessible so that students have access to academic supervision by primary care leads.
Raising the profile of General Practice from undergraduate medicine throughout VTS training is necessary to better represent the incredible opportunities that await new career prospects, and that our beloved career is seen as a positive choice and not the last resort. These are some of my thoughts on how we can do this.
General Practice placements should offer opportunities for medical students to be involved in academically rigorous primary care research projects. These should be attached to a primary care academic lead, with a real chance of publication. This will make clear to all medical students that rigorous clinical research isn't the sole repository of secondary care and that primary care clinicians are just as capable of academic leadership and serious academic career prospects.
Offer an intercalated primary care research degree which offers undergraduate medical students who are keen to work in primary care a chance to learn and apply research skills to the context of general practice, understanding how to critically evaluate evidence-based guidance and how to apply it intelligently and pragmatically in primary care.
Build within VTS training for General Practice an academic project that runs along the program for all trainees, with opportunities for publication, academic mentorship and for suitable trainees to be offered an additional year to culminate that research into a Master's dissertation. This would broaden the access to academic primary care career and make clear that this isn't just an elite path for the chosen few.
Offer visiting university lectureships to those VTS trainees who show aptitude for teaching from right throughout the training scheme, perhaps allowing them to recruit med students and FY1/FY2s, physician associates to partake in their research project. I am aware there are some visiting lecturships but these are often offered only to trainees in the last 12 months of training and isn't very inclusive. The opportunity to teach at university helps to expose GPs to other academics across varied disciplines and could bridge connections that forge future academic appointments for those with such ambitions.
Offer leadership, management and business training to GP trainees to prepare them for the non-clinical aspects of a successful career in primary care and running the business side of things well. It should be very clear to most that we don't have sufficient training on this aspect and I make a stronger case for this in my BGJP Life article here
Dr. Joel Brown MD
MBChB, MRCGP, MInstLM, MRSPH, DipMSKMed, DFSEM(UK)
Salaried General Practitioner at Idle Medical Centre.
Medical Director and Chief Clinical Officer of BIONABU.com
Trustee of Pain UK
Bradford Locality Member of YORLMC