(June 2010) by Dr Warwick Palmer

Today, many practices are involved in teaching at various levels of medical education. In Warkworth, it is quite possible that your care may involve a medical student or a junior doctor in a post graduate training position.

At varying times, there are both 4th year and 6th year medical student practice attachments. These students are closely supervised, and anything they do will be carefully checked by senior doctors within the practice.

House surgeons (usually in their 2nd post graduate year, sometimes more senior) and registrars (usually at very least in their 3rd post graduate year) are able to see patients more autonomously, though they also have full access and support from senior doctors whenever they need it. Each of these latter two groups are well defined post graduate training positions – the junior doctor sees a smaller number of patients than partners in the practice, they have clearly defined learning goals, and their host practices have formal teaching contracts to meet with respect to their training.

The presence of these doctors is exciting and stimulating for both themselves and the practices to which they are attached – the teaching and learning environment is stimulating for us all. They bring to the practice their fresh, up to date academic knowledge, and their enthusiasm, whilst the practices to which they are attached offer a breadth of clinical experience needed to prepare them ultimately for unsupervised independent practice.

With general practice now a specialty in its own right, we are all expected to complete post graduate training for the Fellowship of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, involving a high stakes exam after a year of practice attachment (Part 1 or PRIMEX) then at least another two years in practice to complete Part 2. Once Fellowship is attained, that doctor is able to set up “independent” practice, but we all still have to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to medical education and learning with a Maintenance of Professional Standards (or MOPS) programme which is continuous on a three yearly ongoing cycle throughout our working lives.

Every single day should be a learning experience.