The number of medical student placements in Australian general practice is likely to increase given the rapid expansion of medical student numbers1 and limitations on educational opportunities in hospital settings.2 For this increase to be sustainable, patient attitudes and expectations must inform the design and conduct of general practice student attachments.
While evidence from Australian studies
is lacking, evidence from overseas
suggests that patients are generally
willing to have a medical student
present during general practitioner
consultations. This willingness, however,
may be contingent upon factors related
to the patient, student or consultation.
Focus groups and two cross sectional
surveys of 296 patients attending 16
general practices in New South Wales.
Patients are willing to have students
present, but not for all consultations.
Patients find it problematic to have
students present during consultations
that involve worrying test results,
emotional upset, internal examinations,
and sexual problems. Younger patients
are less willing to have a student
present. For all patients the presence of
a student may alter the dynamics and
content of the consultation; patients are
less willing to see a student without the
GP also being present.
Supervising GPs should be aware of
circumstances where patients are less
likely to want a student present and of
ways in which the presence of a student
may alter the consultation.
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