Background: In Germany, like many other countries, general practice clerkships have only recently become mandatory during medical education. The biggest challenges for the organisation of such clerkships are achieving a minimum level of standardisation, and developing and maintaining a system of quality assurance. The aim of this study is to assess the instructional quality in teaching practices using a benchmark system.
Methods: Before commencing, students anonymously assessed the importance of core aspects of the mandatory primary care clerkship. After the clerkship, they evaluated learning opportunities and teaching performance. Based on this data, a benchmark system was developed to identify areas of strength and weakness for all practices as well as individual teaching practices.
Results: A total of 695 students evaluated 97 general practices belonging to a teaching network. Prior to the clerkship, most students considered recognition of frequent diseases (85%) and communication skills (65%) the most important learning goals. After the clerkship, nearly 90% of students confirmed that the general practitioner (GP) was good or excellent at teaching these two goals but only two-thirds thought the GP's teaching performance good or excellent in preventive medicine and screening. In an exemplary analysis, we identified the 2 best and the 2 worst practices that consistently received scores far above or below average, respectively.
Conclusion: We were able to identify areas of weakness in teaching and identified specific GPs who did not meet the students' needs and expectations. This evaluation seems to be a useful quality assurance tool to identify the potential for improvement and faculty development.