Patients Consulting With Students in General Practice: Survey of Patients' Satisfaction and Their Role in Teaching

Med Teach. 2008;30(6):622-9. doi: 10.1080/01421590802043827.


Background: General practice is a common setting for medical students' clinical training. However, little is known about patients' views on consulting with senior students.

Aims: To investigate patients' attitudes to consultations conducted by senior students alone, before patients saw their GP; and to enquire into patients' perception of their teaching role.

Method: Adult patients attending 50 health centres in Sweden completed a questionnaire directly after their consultation with a fifth-year medical student and their GP. Results were analysed quantitatively and qualitatively.

Results: The questionnaire was completed by 495 patients, and 92% were satisfied with their consultation. Reasons were personal gain as well as altruism. Almost all patients were prepared to consult with a student again, however in a third of cases conditional on the nature of their presenting complaints. Emotional problems and intimate examinations could cause reluctance. Patients' conception of their teaching role supported previous research: patients as "facilitators of students" development of professional skills and as "experts" or "exemplars" of their condition. An additional theme, patients as "part of a real context", emerged.

Conclusions: Patients in general practice have a positive view towards consulting with senior students. Even unprepared patients see themselves as contributors to teaching, and their capacity in this respect is probably under-utilized.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Clerkship / methods*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Community Medicine / education*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Students, Medical*
  • Teaching / methods