The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has claimed that over three-quarters of medical students report hearing negative comments about general practice from clinicians, educational trainers, and/or academics by the time they reach their final year at university.
The RCGP and Medical Schools Council’s (MSC’s) report, ‘Destination GP,’ is based on a survey of 3,680 students from 30 medical schools across the United Kingdom and builds on previous research indicating that negative attitudes towards general practice make people reconsider joining the field.
According to the survey, 70 per cent of students reported hearing derogatory comments about general practice whilst on clinical placements, whilst 37 per cent of those surveyed reported hearing them at medical school.
The survey also found that:
The Royal College warned that this negativity discourages and deters some medical students from joining general practice, or abandoning it for other medical specialties, and the MSC called for urgent action to combat any ‘narrow-minded views’ that might be affecting the profession.
The UK is already suffering from a shortage of GPs, and the royal college is concerned that this attitude towards the specialty could make it even more difficult for the government to achieve its goal of bringing in an additional 5,000 GPs in England by 2020.
The negative comments about general practice included complaints about inappropriate referrals, claims that the general practice is “undemanding” and easy and the suggestion that GPs are lower in status to other medical professionals.
The chair of the RCGP, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard described these comments as ‘archaic’, adding that the perceptions ‘need to change quickly’.
She further added that work is already being done to combat these attitudes, with GP societies in medical schools which help to counter some of the negativity.
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