Background: The intern (or pre-registration) year has been criticised in the past for its emphasis on service delivery at the expense of educational achievement. It is hoped that new approaches to early postgraduate training such as the foundation programmes in the UK, will make clinical education more structured and effective. Intern placements in non-traditional settings such as general practice have been shown in the past to improve the quality of learning. Little is known however about which features of the general practice learning environment contribute most to the perception of improved learning.
Aims: This aim of this study was to examine the learning environment in general practice from the perspective of interns, (the learners), to determine the factors that contribute most to motivating effective learning in a general practice setting.
Methods: This study used a qualitative case study approach to explore the effects of two different learning environments, (general practice and hospital) on learner motivation amongst a small group of interns.
Results: We found that the biggest difference between the hospital and general practice learning environments was the increased individual responsibility for patient care experienced by interns in general practice. Greater responsibility was associated with greater motivation for learning.
Conclusions: Increased intern responsibility for patient care does appear to motivate learning. More work needs to be done on providing interns in hospital posts with greater patient responsibility within an effective supervisory structure.