Background: Patient encounters are the core learning activity of Australian general practice (family practice) training. Exposure to patient demographics and presentations may vary from one general practice registrar (vocational trainee) to another. This can affect comprehensiveness of training. Currently, there is no mechanism to systematically capture the content of GP registrar consultations. The aim of the Registrar Clinical Encounters in Training (ReCEnT) study is to document longitudinally the nature and associations of consultation-based clinical and educational experiences of general practice registrars.
Methods/design: This is an ongoing prospective multi-site cohort study of general practice registrars' consultations, entailing paper-based recording of consultation data. The study setting is general practices affiliated with three geographically-based Australian general practice regional training providers. Registrars record details of 60 consecutive consultations. Data collected includes registrar demographics, details of the consultation, patient demographics, reasons for encounter and problems managed. Problems managed are coded with the International Classification of Primary Care (second edition) classification system. Additionally, registrars record educational factors related to the encounter. The study will follow the clinical exposure of each registrar six-monthly over the 18 months to two years (full-time equivalent) of their general practice training program.
Conclusions: The study will provide data on a range of factors (patient, registrar and consultation factors). This data will be used to inform a range of educational decisions as well as being used to answer educational research questions. We plan to use ReCEnT as a formative assessment tool for registrars and help identify and address educational needs. The study will facilitate program evaluation by the participating training providers and thus improve articulation of educational programs with practice experience. From the research point of view it will address an evidence gap - the in-practice clinical and educational experience of general practice trainees, determinants of these experiences, and the determinants of registrars' patterns of practice (for example, prescribing practice) over the course of their training.