Out of hours, out of sight? Uncovering the education potential of general practice urgent care for UK undergraduates

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There is a need to increase undergraduate primary care exposure and subsequently enhance primary care recruitment. This study aimed to establish the current use and education potential of the primary care out of hours (OOH) learning environment. This was a mix methods study. A questionnaire was sent to UK primary care heads of teaching nationally to explore the current use of GP OOHs in the undergraduate curriculum and focus groups evaluated final year medical students' experience of an OOH placement. There was a 100% response rate from primary care heads of teaching. Despite 86% being in favour of integrating OOH placements within the undergraduate curriculum, only 28% of medical schools currently offer primary care OOH placements. 36 out of 240 students volunteered for a clinical OOH session. Focus group data from 6 of these students revealed that the placements provided unique learning opportunities and allowed students to appreciate the organisational structure of the National Health Service (NHS). However, barriers included logistical difficulties with the OOH providers and inadequate supervision. It appears that we are overlooking a unique educational opportunity for medical undergraduates. With increasing demands for GP exposure within the undergraduate curriculum, GP OOH is a useful resource for UK medical schools.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalEducation for Primary Care
Early online date15 Apr 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Apr 2020


  • primary care
  • general practice
  • out of hours
  • undergraduate education


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