General practitioners teaching new surgical trainees about clinic letter writing

James Seddon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Clinic letter writing is an important communication tool in the hospital out-patient setting, serving as a record of the consultation for the hospital, confirming the information gathered and the agreed outcome with the patient, and communicating progress to the general practitioner. It is a skill, and is often poorly performed. There has traditionally been a paucity of formal teaching on the subject. Context: Classroom sessions during a regional surgical trainee year-1 ‘boot camp’ induction, preparing new specialist trainees for the practical functions of their new roles. Innovation: Forty-five minute sessions delivered to a total of 50 new first-year surgical trainees by a senior general practitioner trainee in the 2015 and 2016 boot camps. Pairs of trainees were asked to rate the quality of a letter, and then defend that rating through discussion with the group. This guided discussion was intended to allow the trainees to derive the important features of letters themselves. Implications: Feedback from the group confirmed the suspicion that this was an unknown and unmet need for these trainees. The trainees valued the teaching (100% respondents), and felt that it made them more prepared for the workplace (93% of respondents). High-quality communication between the hospital and the patient, and their general practitioner, is required for efficient, safe practice. Consideration should be given to providing brief formal training on writing clinic letters to practitioners who are new to this role. Clinic letter writing is a skill and is often poorly performed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-47
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Teacher
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

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