Background There has been a significant decline in medical students' clinical experience in hospitals. Hospital‐based teaching is struggling to provide medical students with sufficient experience of the common health problems of our industrialized ageing society. Hence, general practice has become an important locus for medical education. Published evidence, however, that students can access appropriate clinical experience in general practice is sparse.
Objective To determine students' clinical exposure during clinical and method attachments based in general practice at two medical schools.
Educational initiative Students were attached to general practice tutors to learn clinical method in internal medicine.
Method General practice tutors from two medical schools collected data on age, gender, diagnoses, symptoms and signs of the patients they invited to teaching sessions.
Results The frequency of diagnoses, symptoms and signs seen by medical students are recorded. Students mostly saw patients with chronic illnesses; the commonest diagnoses were ischaemic heart disease and angina.
Discussion Our study has recorded the largest published database of clinical diagnoses, symptoms and signs encountered by students learning clinical method in general practice. It shows that students obtained a wealth of experience with patients with common chronic diseases. Students must also learn in the hospital setting, to expeirence the presentation of acute illness. The combination of teaching in these two settings is likely to provide the most effective technique to ensure that students encounter the common, acute and chronic conditons that affect patients in the 21st century.