The curriculum and syllabus are for use by learners at any stage of their lifelong learning journey. It has been designed to enable everyone to access it and use it according to their needs.
If you are a medical student or hospital trainee, you might look at the lists of contextual units to gain an appreciation of the breadth of areas in which GPs practice. You might identify a few units which you are not experienced in, read the rationale, the competencies and learning outcomes and the guiding topics and content areas to better understand the content and the role of a GP in that particular contextual area. If you are thinking of applying for general practice training, you could also read the core units and gain an understanding of the domains applied in practice.
If you are just starting in general practice, head to the words of wisdom section. These are tips from experienced GPs which you are not likely to find in a journal article or textbook. They are practical tips to help you in your clinical practice. Make sure you focus on the seven core units – these are the domains of general practice, as well as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and rural health units. The competencies in these units make up the core competency framework of a Fellowed GP. Understanding these core units will help you understand the breadth of competencies which you need as a GP; it isn’t just about knowledge! You may also want to look at the learning resources and read one or two resources from different contextual units. This will help you understand the major resources appropriate to that contextual unit; for example, the hypertension guidelines.
If you are a few weeks into your general practice clinical experience, have a look at the case consultation example. This will help you understand how the core competencies and domains of a GP, as well as the 10 assessment areas used in the RACGP clinical exams, are applied to various case scenarios. There are questions to work through with a colleague, study partner or supervisor to help you better understand the breadth of skills needed of a GP, as described in the core competency framework. Start looking at the learning strategies and work through these. Choose a contextual area you see frequently in your clinical practice. Practise evaluating your learning using the questions in italics. Make sure your learning leads to changes in your clinical practice, otherwise it is just learning for learning’s sake!
If you are a few months into your general practice clinical experience, continue working through the case consultation examples and learning strategies, but now start including contextual units which you are seeing less frequently, or those that you don’t know much about. Learn from your supervisors or your peers. Use family or friends to help you practise developing skills in communication. Continue to evaluate and challenge your previously held knowledge and assumptions. Go back to the words of wisdom section. Can you relate to these tips now you’ve had some experience in clinical general practice?
If you are studying for exams, read or re-read the rationale and competencies and learning outcomes sections. What exactly is expected of a Fellowed GP? Why are these core and contextual units important? You might also work through the guiding topics and content areas to understand the topic areas that a GP needs to understand. The learning resources may also be helpful as a starting point for your learning. Working through these resources might help you then identify other resources relevant to your learning needs.
If you are a Fellowed GP, pick a few contextual or core units in which you wish to further your learning. Work through the different sections, starting with the rationale, competencies and learning outcomes sections to give you an orientation to the breadth of the unit. Have a look at the case consultation example. Could you create another case consultation example to help demonstrate the competencies you just read? Review the guiding topics and content areas and the learning resources to help address your learning needs.
If you are a supervisor, review a few units to understand the educational structure of the curriculum and syllabus, which remains the same throughout all units. You might note that the syllabus aims to support the role of the supervisor as a ‘meaning maker’ – helping with the application of knowledge rather than being a transmitter of knowledge.
Once you’ve assisted your GP in training to identify their learning needs, start by working through the relevant units with them. Perhaps start at the words of wisdom. You might like to offer additional tips based on your experience. You also might like to work through the clinical case together and identify additional ‘what if’ type questions. These cases have been designed to help stimulate discussion across all the competencies required of GPs. You might also like to work through the learning strategies, specifically the ones designed to be done with a supervisor.
If you are developing GP educational activities, then the rationale and guiding topics and content areas will help you in completing a needs analysis and in deciding on the content of the education that will be relevant to GPs. The competencies and learning outcomes will assist you in developing these for your activity; and if you are developing case studies for use in your activity, the case consultation example provides an example of how a case can be expanded to cover all the domains of general practice.
The above suggestions are just that, suggestions. You might have a different way of approaching the curriculum and syllabus. The more you practise using it, the more you can make it work for you to maximise your learning. The order in which you review the units should match your learning needs. It is recommended that you start with the core units as these competencies are reflected in all the contextual units. The contextual units are ordered alphabetically for ease of access, but you might choose to focus on units you are seeing commonly in clinical practice, or those in which you have less experience.