Can a GP internship increase the attraction of General Practice as a career?
DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2009.0206german translation / full article
Background: The implementation of the new Medical Licensure Act of 2002 has clearly upgraded the status of General Practice in medical degrees and strengthened the position of family medicine in teaching and research in medical faculties.
An important change in the Medical Licensure Act was the introduction of an obligatory internship (“Blockpraktikum“). Students are now required to be taught 1-to-1 for a previously defined period of time at an academic teaching practice. The aim of the present study is to investigate whether fifth-year students are motivated to take up the profession of General Practitioner as a result of participation in the GP
Method: A curriculum and defined learning objectives were developed at the Institute for General Practice at the University of Frankfurt for the three seminars and seven practice days, which make up the GP internship. In the summer term 2008, 151 fifth year students completed and evaluated the teaching course. In addition to self-analysis of their own abilities and skills, the question to what extent the internship was able to motivate students to take up the career of GP was examined. Using a pseudonym and a six-step Likert scale from “don’t agree at all” to “completely agree”, the students filled out a questionnaire at the beginning and end of the internship; the difference between was then statistically evaluated.
Results: The results of the evaluation show that students ranked their own abilities and skills higher after the internship than before. The importance of palliative medicine and responses detailing practical experience in palliative medicine were also rated higher than previously.
Regarding the question whether students “could imagine becoming a GP“, the average on a six-step Likert scale with assessments ranging from “1 = don’t agree at all” to “6 – completely agree” rose from 3.07 before the internship to 3.73 (p=0.001) afterwards. A gender comparison showed that the average increase among 58 male students was 0.78 and among the 93 female students 0.59 (p0.01) in both cases. More than 52 % of students were more positive in their attitude towards general practice than before the internship. Male students were significantly easier to motivate than female students.
Conclusion: The study shows that the practice orientated teaching course “GP internship“ at the University of Frankfurt encourages students’ interest in becoming general practitioners. Particularly in view of the looming shortage of GPs, the study supports efforts to provide a good and practice-oriented teaching course in general practice. Further studies – particularly longitudinal analyses – should further corroborate this conclusion.