Women teaching women's health: issues in the establishment of a clinical teaching associate program for the well woman check

Women Health. 2003;37(4):49-65. doi: 10.1300/J013v37n04_05.


The impact of screening programs for cervical cancer would be increased with the greater participation of currently underscreened women. Training for medical students and doctors in the fine technical and communication skills required in breast and gynaecological examinations would improve participation by increasing the confidence and skill of doctors in raising the issue of screening, thereby making the examination a more positive experience for women. Gynaecology Teaching Associate (GTA) programs, using specially trained standardized patients, have been used in over 90% of American and Canadian medical schools for more than ten years to provide such training. Australia has been slow to adopt this teaching method. A Clinical Teaching Associates in Gynaecology program (CTA) was first established in 1996 by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Queensland, building on the Pap test program from Adelaide. Other medical schools subsequently introduced such programs and in 2000, the Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, established a CTA program based on the Queensland program, with a grant from PapScreen Victoria. This paper describes the methods of recruitment and training of CTAs, use of CTAs in the medical course, preliminary evaluation, and ethical and other issues in the Melbourne and Queensland University programs.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / psychology
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Female
  • Gynecology / education*
  • Humans
  • Models, Educational
  • Physical Examination / statistics & numerical data
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Women / psychology
  • Queensland
  • Schools, Medical
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data
  • Women's Health*