A survey of UK medical schools' arrangements for early patient contact

Kevork Hopayian, Amanda Howe, Valerie Dagley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Background: Many U.K. medical schools have patient contact in the first two years of the undergraduate course.
Aim: To compare the purposes and organization of early patient contact in UK medical schools and to relate these arrangements to the schools' curricular objectives.
Methods: A telephone survey of lead educators in UK medicals schools. Categories of contact were plotted against phases of the course to discern patterns of organisation.
Results: The quantity of contact varies considerably (four to 65 days). There is a pattern, with learning objectives around the social context of health and illness preceding skills based work and integrated clinical knowledge for practice coming later. Schools fall into three categories: close adherence to the preclinical/clinical split, with limited early contact acting as an introduction to social aspects of health; provision of substantial patient contact to maximize the integration of knowledge and skills; and transitional, with limited clinical goals. General practice provides between one third and one half of early patient contact.
Conclusions: Arrangements meet the objectives set by each school and reflect differing educational philosophies. Change is toward more early contact. There appears to be no national guidance which supports a minimum quantity of patient contact or specific educational purpose in the early years of U.K. basic medical training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-813
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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