The Southern Trust is the first in Northern Ireland to pilot a student placement programme in its GP Out of Hours Service.
Seven final year medical students from Queens University Belfast who were completing a nine-week Assistantship programme with the Trust took part in the placement programme.
Dr Mae McConnell, Clinical Sub Dean for the Southern Trust explains: “As Queens University Teaching Hospitals, Daisy Hill and Craigavon Area hospitals provide an essential part of the student doctor undergraduate programme by offering high quality clinical placements to medical students.
“We were delighted to extend our training programme to the GP Out of Hours service to help increase the exposure of trainee doctors to General Practice and in particular to the GP Emergency Management of patients.
“Hopefully by offering a wider breadth of clinical experience, students will be able to make a more informed choice when considering a career in general practice or secondary care.”
The students who took part in the programme worked alongside Dr Sandra Elliott, Medical Manager for the GP Out of Hours Service, during evening shifts.
Dr Elliott says: “It was with great pleasure and a highly rewarding experience to work with these young doctors. By working in the GP Out of Hours setting, they became familiar with call handling, our system for prioritising patients, and observing our interaction with patients to determine how they should be cared for.
“Overall it gave our students a better understanding of the role and scope of GP Out of Hours and the opportunity to encounter the very wide variety of clinical cases that we deal with.
“Feedback from students who took part in the programme has been very positive – some comments included “it gave me an appreciation of the pressures faced in GP OOH service” and “my clinical skills have improved by seeing patients and receiving feedback from experienced GP.”
Discussions are currently ongoing with Queens University Belfast with a view to repeating the pilot next year and on the potential to extend to other Trusts.
*Main photo: Dr Sandra Elliott, Medical Manager for the Southern Trust GP Out of Hours Service, Mr Eoin Daly, Medical
Education Administrator, Ms Catherine Reid, Head of Service for GP Out of Hours, Dr Mae McConnell,
Sub-Dean Undergraduate Education, Dr Lauren Hetherington, now a Foundation Year 1 with the Southern
Trust who took part in the GP Out of Hours placement programme, Mrs Kelly Wylie, Medical Education