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GPs needed to teach tomorrow’s doctors – new campaign launched

Medical students are taught on a patient simulator

25 April 2017

The University of Bristol is involved in teaching the next generation of doctors and has launched today [25 April] a new campaign to get practising GPs to ‘step up and teach’.

Changes to the undergraduate medical curriculum at the University mean that more GP teachers are needed to deliver around 50,000 sessions per year to 1,250 students across five academic years, up from 17,000 sessions per year. This is due to an increase in the amount of medical student learning that will take place in the community, including in general practice, up from 10 per cent to 30 per cent of the curriculum.

The campaign, led by Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC), highlights the fact that GPs, students and patients all benefit from being part of a teaching practice.

Dr Simon Thornton, GP engagement lead at CAPC, said: “With the changes to the undergraduate medical curriculum, there is going to be a significant expansion of the amount of time medical students spend in the community and general practice. We know that it is an excellent place for students to learn skills such as decision-making and consultation skills. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to inspire the next generation of GPs.

“Feedback from students on their GP placements is almost universally excellent and was an area that was particularly praised by the General Medical Council on their last visit. Patients themselves feel that being a teaching practice enhances the reputation of the practice and often appreciate the opportunity to find out more about their condition.

“We engage practices across Bristol and the South West and have some from as far afield as Dorset and Berkshire, and up to Worcestershire and the Welsh border. Due to the hard work of all our GP teachers, we currently manage to place all our students in practices and hope to be able to continue to do so as the amount of teaching delivered by primary care increases.”

The campaign is being launched against a backdrop of falling GP numbers in the South West and nationally.  

Dr Trevor Thompson, a GP and Head of Teaching at CAPC, said: “There is evidence that positive GP role models and a stronger emphasis on primary care in medical schools increases the proportion of students who choose general practice as a career. Alongside this, GP job satisfaction and retention is positively influenced by being in practices with the opportunity to teach medical students. With GP numbers under threat like never before, and the extraordinary pressures on the NHS more generally, it is vital that we unite as a profession to attract and retain the best and brightest students.”

Key facts:

  • Ninety per cent of UK NHS patient contact takes place within primary care—1.3 million consultations every working day. Around 74 per cent of primary care contacts take place with a GP. 
  • In the UK, 75 per cent of GP registrars (trainee GPs) say they are more likely to apply for a job that has teaching as part of it than one that doesn’t.
  • A study published recently in BMJ Open found that two in five GPs in the South West plans to quit the profession.

GPs who are interested in getting involved in teaching at the University of Bristol, contact



Further information

Further information

About GP teaching at the University of Bristol (includes video)

About studying medicine at the University of Bristol

About the undergraduate medical curriculum at the University of Bristol (video)

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care


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