'Learners as teachers' in general practice: stakeholders' views of the benefits and issues

Document Type


Publication details

Silberberg, P, Ahern, C & van de Mortel, TF 2013, ''Learners as teachers' in general practice: stakeholders' views of the benefits and issues, Education for Primary Care, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 410-417.

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Objectives: To explore stakeholders' perceptions of learners teaching (near-peer teaching) in general practice in order to inform training policy.

Design: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 29 general practice stakeholders. Interviews continued until data saturation was reached. Transcribed interviews underwent thematic analysis.

Setting: Nine general practices in NSW, Australia.

Participants: Eleven general practitioner supervisors, eight general practice registrars, two prevocational general practice placement programme trainees, and eight medical students.

Results: Learners expressed positive attitudes towards learners teaching, and half were already teaching. Learners and supervisors felt near-peer teaching could enhance their own learning. Supervisors suggested near-peer teaching reduced time pressures on themselves, helped them to keep current, was a form of succession planning, and brought financial benefits to the practice. Having time to assess the capabilities of learners prior to allocating them teaching roles was considered important. Strategies suggested by learners to encourage near-peer teaching include asking learners to teach, mentoring, providing short but regular opportunities to teach, highlighting the clinical relevance of teaching skills, having longer placements for medical students, and allowing learners to teach in areas of interest, expertise or need.

Conclusions: Participants looked favourably upon learners teaching in general practice, and felt it could enhance learning. Suggestions were made to facilitate near-peer teaching in general practice. Further quantitative research with a larger and more diverse sample is required to determine if these results can be generalised to the wider general practice population.

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