A qualitative study of final-year medical students' perspectives of general practitioners' competencies

Björn Landström1, Bengt Mattsson1 and Carl E. Rudebeck2

1Department of Public Health and Community Medicine/Primary Health Care Unit, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

2Research Unit, Esplanaden Health Care Centre, Kalmar County Council, Västervik, Sweden and Institute of Community Medicine, Tromsö University, Norway

Submitted: 22/08/2011; Accepted: 21/09/2011; Published: 23/09/2011

Int J Med Educ. 2011; 2:102-109; doi: 10.5116/ijme.4e79.b49a

© 2011 Björn Landström et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: To investigate final-year medical students' perspectives of general practitioners' competencies. A further aim of the study was to investigate which type of clinical problems is properly managed by GPs according to students.

Methods: We conducted a qualitative study of 49 final year medical students from two programmes. Reflective writing statements were used to collect data. Qualitative content analysis was employed to analyse data.

Results: Three themes were identified to explain the conditions of a general practitioner (GP). They are: 'prerequisites', 'patients´ problems' and 'competence and clinical judgment' which reflect the specific features of primary care, presentation of symptoms by patient and the way that GPs approach an actual encounter.

Conclusions: The students valued the importance of unselected patient problems, straightforwardness in contact and care as the characteristics of a competent GP. They viewed patients with different approaches and related their observations to problems of fragmentation within this large area of medical care. This is a period in the training of students in which students' views of general practice are formed.