The Doctor of Medicine program has expanded across Years 3 and 4 with several streams of clinical placement models. For students in Year 3, many undertake an urban general practice longitudinal placement (Stream C and D), where they are immersed for four to six sessions per week for one semester within a practice. Other students (Stream A and B) undertake a weekly sessional placement across a semester and then those students undertake a six week full-time general practice placement in Year 4.
General practice attachments are essential learning locations for students. Some things can be learned only in general practice attachments as these teaching sessions provide invaluable opportunities for learners to integrate theory and practice in a way that strengthens both. The emphasis is on seeing, doing and receiving feedback, as practice attachments are where learners will see a wide range of ordinary patients with common problems.
The general practice term aims to develop history taking, physical examination skills, management, therapeutics, and ability to apply the scientific concepts acquired in Years 1 and 2 in a practical way in the context.
Defining the scope of skills and knowledge required for general practice presents a challenge. As a simple guide, it is intended that by the end of the term students will have:
1. Increased their understanding of:
- the current context of general practice within the health care system;
- why patients attend a general practitioner and how patients experience illness;
- how general practitioners approach their consultations with patients;
- community health resources and the practice of health promotion and disease prevention;
- the value of teamwork in improving patient health status and continuity of care;
- the assessment and management of a wide range of common clinical and psychosocial problems;
- ethical issues in health care; and
- the issues involved in looking after themselves as future doctors.
2. Further developed:
- skills in clinical procedures, selective history taking and physical examination;
- communication skills, especially in the areas of information gathering, explanations and breaking bad news; and
- management skills already acquired and discover new skills needed in general practice.
3. Developed attitudes which:
- recognise and acknowledge a patient-centred approach to care;
- foster the incorporation of health promotion and disease prevention into every consultation; and
- recognise the value of teamwork in improving patient health status.