Learning Medicine in the Community

Dr Janette McGuinness, GP & Lecturer in General Practice

You  will  attend  GP  practices  during  the  early  part  of  clinical  one  and  again  during  the  Medicine in the Community module. Primary care medicine will give you an insight into how disease impacts the patient, their families and the community.  This section of the guide should help prepare you to make the most of your community placements.  

In  stage  4,  you  should  spend  time  shadowing  the  GP  and  learning  at  their  side,  taking  opportunities  to  practice  your  developing  skills  under  their  supevision  where opportunities arise. In stage 5 placements, you should attempt to integrate yourself into the  day  to  day  business  of  the  practice.    You    should  make  yourself  available  to  help  nursing staff, for example with vaccine clinics or chronic care clinics. Reception staff and practice managers will give you an insight into the business matters involved in running a practice.  Be professional in all your dealings with ancillary staff and keep in mind that they are running a business and at times it may not be possible to facilitate you.

To  get  the  most  from  your  clinical  placement  in  general  practice  we  also  recommend  that you identify your learning needs prior to your attachment and communicate these to  your  respective  GP  tutors  when  contacting  them. This  allows them to focus their teaching on areas which will most benefit you.

Important Advice

  • All general advice in this guide applies also to general practice settings 
  • Contact your GP in advance to confirm arrangements regarding starting times, meeting place and also learning needs.
  • Ensure you are punctual and have researched appropriate transportation in advance.
  • Dress in a professional and conservative manner in accordance with guidelines set out in this document & display your UCD Student ID at all times. White coats are not necessary in General Practice.
  • Observe all guidelines for professional engagement with patients including those of choice, consent and confidentiality
  • Patients may sometimes entrust students with key pieces of information or with questions which have troubled them for some time. Acknowledge the importance of the issue to the patient but do not offer your own judgements on such topics. Ensure that your tutor is aware of the issue raised.
  • When working with other members of the practice staff or primary care team, observe the same high standards of professional behaviour.
  • General Practice is, by its nature, unpredictable and there may be times that are quiet or when you will be not able to sit in. Please use this down time to your advantage, ensure you have reading material with you so you can research cases you have seen that day or look up medications you may be unfamiliar with.
  • Most practices have internet access. Check with your GP if you are allowed to use this for medical research purposes. It is unacceptable to use a practice internet connection for personal matters unless you have the specific permission of the GP concerned. Some practices have an internet usage policy – check for this at the beginning of your attachment.