Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 40, Issue 1, January-February 2011

Teaching procedural skills in general practice

Susan M Wearne
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General practitioners need the skills to perform a core set of procedures. The increase in community based medical education gives GPs more opportunity and responsibility to facilitate medical students and junior doctors’ acquisition of these core skills.
This article summarises how procedural skills are learned and describes a practical framework for constructing a supportive learning environment that is safe for patients and learners.
Procedural skills are learned in stages starting with a ‘big picture’ concept of the skill and its place in clinical care. Next the skill becomes fixed through deliberate practice with specific, constructive feedback based on observation. Autonomous practice is reached after further practice and exposure to increased complexity. General practitioners can facilitate skill development by using a staged learning cycle, building on their learner’s prior knowledge and skill.

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