About our teaching

Our Student Placements:

The Department of General Practice is committed to enhancing general practice and primary health care through excellent education that engages with the community and the wider health care system.

Doctor of Medicine (MD) students at the University of Melbourne undertake general practice placements throughout the course. All students have a previous undergraduate degree, usually (but not always) from a biomedical, science or allied health field.

MD Year 1: Principles of Clinical Practice 1 (PCP1)

The PCP1 placements are among the students’ first clinical visits and have an emphasis on communication skills. Students undertake two individual placements, one each semester. During each placement (practices must be within 1 hour travel time from Parkville), students will observe a doctor’s consultations for a three-hour period. We ask doctors to set aside a small amount of time after the observation to talk to the students about their experience.

During this placement, students will:

  • concentrate on specific aspects of the communication between the doctor and the patient
  • attend in pairs (where possible) enabling them to discuss specific aspects of their visit; and
  • be encouraged to discuss their observations with their on-campus tutorial group, ensuring that the identities of doctors and patients are not disclosed during these discussions.

Students have not yet learnt about the skills and techniques required for universal precautions. We therefore advise that first year students must not become involved in activities such as immunisation, taking blood samples or carrying out a procedure on a patient.

MD Year 2: Ambulatory Care (AC)

The aim of the Ambulatory Care (AC) term is to provide students with an understanding of non-ward based health care. Students will be based within the Emergency Department and will rotate to outpatient specialty clinics, day facilities, diagnostic facilities and general practices. Students will spend four days in general practice (one day per week) under a nominated GP supervisor to gain exposure to primary health care settings. We encourage practices to take pairs of students, enabling students to maximise their reflective learning.

Learning activities during this term may include:

  • determining how the GP mobilises a multidisciplinary team for a chronic illness or other complex conditions, understanding the choice of allied health involvement
  • interviewing a patient to enable observation of doctor/patient concordance, analysing examples of communication between the GP and the hospital and/or other specialist; and
  • gaining exposure to practice management: appointment systems, triage, clinical consultation, investigations and multidisciplinary management, follow up, monitoring and referral.

MD Year 2: Primary Care Community Base (PCCB)

The Primary Care Community Base is a longitudinal community-based clinical placement that sits alongside the hospital-based training for students from the Northern and Western Clinical Schools (at Epping and Footscray/Sunshine). Second year students from these clinical schools will spend one day a fortnight at their PCCB practice (alternating weeks for the two clinical schools), in addition to an immersion period of 3 consecutive days in March, intended to familiarise them with the General Practice environment.

This placement allows students to:

  • focus on the community context of health care;
  • learn about the management and prevention of chronic long-term health issues in the community context; and
  • follow and understand the patient's journey through the health care system and gain some experience of inter-professional practice.

MD Year 3: GP Block Rotation (GPB)

The six-week rotation is the general practice specialty training for students in the third year of the MD. The objective of the rotation is to develop medical students’ knowledge and skills in community primary health care. This is the main opportunity for students to learn about the theoretical underpinnings of General Practice as a distinct specialist discipline. Students are encouraged to participate in all practice activities and should meet regularly with the GP supervisors to review their progress and receive specific feedback. There are six rotating terms (blocks) of General Practice commencing in February and finishing in November. In addition to General Practice, students will rotate through Women’s Health, Child and Adolescent Health, Mental Health and Aged Care.

MD Year 4: Research Project (MDRP)

Students undertake a research project in the first semester of their final year to gain research skills training and explore in greater depth an area of interest. Students undertaking their research at the Department of General Practice do five days clinical placement during the semester to keep them engaged clinically. MDRP runs between February and May each year and placement days are every second Friday.

MD Year 4: Vocational Selective (VS)

Students attend full-time for a four week block. There are three rotations which occur between August and October. The Vocational Selective allows students who have almost finished their medical course to explore an area of clinical practice in which they think they might like to develop a career.