Creating better doctors: exploring the value of learning medicine in primary care

<p><b>Background:</b> Across the UK, 13% of undergraduate medical education is undertaken in primary care (PC). Students value their experiences in this setting but uncertainty remains about the extent to which these placements influence their future practice. <b>Aims:</b> To explore the impact of PC based undergraduate medical education on the development of medical students and new doctors as clinicians, and on students’ preparedness for practice. <b>Methods:</b> Mixed method study across two UK medical schools. Focus groups and individual interviews with Year 5 medical students, Foundation Year 2 doctors and GP Specialty Trainees; online surveys of Year 5 medical students and Foundation Year 2 doctors. <b>Results:</b> PC placements play an important part in the development of all ‘apprentice’ doctors, not just those wanting to become GPs. They provide a high quality learning environment, where students can: gradually take on responsibility; build confidence; develop empathy in their approach to patient care; and gain understanding of the social context of health and illness. <b>Conclusions:</b> The study suggests that for these results to be achieved, PC placements have to be high quality, with strong links between practice-based learning and teaching/assessment in medical school. GP tutors need to be enthusiastic and students actively involved in consultations.</p>