Supporting near-peer teaching in general practice: a national survey

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van de Mortel, TF, Silberberg, PL, Ahern, CM & Pit, SW 2016, 'Supporting near-peer teaching in general practice: a national survey', BMC Medical Education, vol. 16.

Article available on Open Access

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BACKGROUND: Training bodies see teaching by junior doctors and vocational trainees in general practice (family medicine) as integral to a doctor's role. While there is a body of literature on teacher training programs, and on peer and near-peer teaching in hospitals and universities, there has been little examination of near-peer teaching in general practice. Near-peer teaching is teaching to those close to oneself but not at the same level in the training continuum. This study investigated the perceptions of key stakeholders on near-peer teaching in general practice, their current near-peer teaching activities, and methods of recruitment and support.

METHODS: A national anonymous online survey was used to obtain data on Australian stakeholders' perceptions of, and processes related to, near-peer teaching in general practice. Recruitment occurred via electronic invitations sent by training providers and stakeholder associations. Separate questionnaires, which were validated via several cycles of review and piloting, were developed for supervisors and learners. The survey included both fixed response and open response questions.

RESULTS: Responses (n = 1,122) were obtained from 269 general practitioner supervisors, 221 general practice registrars, 319 prevocational trainees, and 313 medical students. All stakeholder groups agreed that registrars should teach learners in general practice, and 72% of registrars, 68% of prevocational trainees, and 33% of medical students reported having done some teaching in this setting. Three-quarters of supervisors allowed learners to teach. Having another learner observe their consultations was the most common form of teaching for registrars and prevocational trainees. Eight percent of registrars received some remuneration for teaching. The approach used to determine teaching readiness and quality varied greatly between supervisors.

CONCLUSIONS: Near-peer teaching was supported by the majority of stakeholders, but is underutilised and has poor structural support. Guidelines may be required to help supervisors better support learners in this role and manage quality issues related to teaching.

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