Objectives: To develop and evaluate a model for medical education which draws upon the whole frontline workforce in primary care and which enables medical students to develop skills and competencies in patient-centred teamworking across organisational boundaries.
Methods: Over a period of 3 years, 517 undergraduate medical students undertook a 4-week community hospital-based attachment developed in partnership with frontline staff. Pre- and post-course questionnaires and qualitative evaluation were sought from students, patients, tutors and frontline staff.
Results: The performance of students in assessment was very good. Before receiving the assessment results, students perceived a high degree of achievement of the specified learning outcomes and reported significant changes in attitude. Qualitative comments were overwhelmingly positive, with clear indications that students appreciated the unique learning opportunities available in this model. Patients were very positive about continuing involvement and valued the opportunity to influence future doctors. Staff were enthusiastic and committed despite competing service pressures.
Conclusions: We have successfully developed a partnership model of community-based education and shown that it leads to significant changes in attitude in students and enables them to learn in an active, patient-focused way about the complexities of delivery of care outside the secondary care environment. We have identified the key requirements for implementation of the model in other centres.