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Preparing for Patients

All documents relating to the PfP course will be available on the Moodle site. Click here to autojoin for access.

Introduction

Preparing for Patients (PfP) is a programme that provides pre-clinical medical students at the University of Cambridge with early patient contact. The first three years of your medical studies in Cambridge concentrate on the science that underlies medicine. Alongside this study, running throughout the three pre-clinical years, you will undertake a programme designed to provide you with opportunities to relate your class work to real patients’ experiences of health problems. The programme will also prepare you for clinical study by helping you progressively to develop the communication skills you will need to interact successfully with patients.

All documents relating to the PfP course will be available on the Moodle site.

There are 4 modules of PfP:

  • PfP A involves meeting patients in general practice (year 1)
  • PfP B involves meeting patients in a hospital setting (year 2)
  • PfP C involves visiting community-based health-related agencies (year 2/3)
  • PfP D enables you to follow a pregnant woman and her family at home over some time (year 3)

These four elements provide a complementary set of different experiences that will build on each other to progress your abilities and understanding of communication and the patient’s perspective of illness. The course emphasises many issues relevant to your training as a medical student:

  • the importance of communication between doctor and patient
  • patients’ perception of illness and the personal and social factors relating to this
  • the relationship between the patient’s perception of illness and their underlying disease
  • inter-relationships between the various organisations and agencies that provide support for people with health-related problems
  • the use of reflection in learning clinical medicine.

PfP is designed to help pre-clinical medical students take the first steps in developing the skills and competencies that form the basis for effective communication in medical interviews. Those who remain in Cambridge for the clinical years will receive the full Clinical Communication Skills course which further combines competencies in communication skills, history taking and clinical examination in an integrated approach to illness and disease.

PfP is one of the 2nd MB subjects, and you will therefore be required to pass all four strands, A, B, C and D, to be qualified to proceed to clinical school.

Special arrangements have been made for affiliated, transfer and other students following the medical course "not for honors" to complete PfP. As these students will be doing only the first two years of the preclinical course (Parts IA and IB), they will need to do PfPC and D a little earlier than their contemporaries. Standard undergraduates will do PfPA in their first year, PfPB in their second year, PfPC in the Long Vacation between their second and third year, and PfPD in their third year. Students doing the course in two years will do PfPA in their first year, PfPC in the Long Vacation between their first and second year, and PfPB and D in their second year.

In addition to following the standard undergraduate course, Cambridge Graduate Course Students (CGC) undertake a number of clinical attachments, on which they must submit written assignments in the first two years of the course. The Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine have approved this patient contact element of the CGC as equivalent to PfP, and CGC students are therefore exempt from the formal requirement to take PfP for the 2nd MB.

You are required to submit coursework for each of the four strands. You will find details of what is required in the course handbook. All submissions must be made using the template provided on the Moodle site.

You should use your University Student Number (USN) and not your name on the work you submit for the 2nd MB as it will be assessed anonymously. USN’s are available from CamSIS via the ‘Student Self Service’ page. When the page opens your USN will be displayed at the top of the page after your name.

PfP A: Meeting patients in primary care - Year 1

 

In the first year, all students visit a GP tutor in their surgery for two afternoons. On each occasion, you will spend time first with the GP tutor and then interview patients in pairs, on one occasion in the surgery and once in the patient's home. You will conduct a simple medical interview, discussing with patients their health problems, their experience of them and their expectations of health care. You will meet your GP tutor immediately afterwards to discuss your experiences and where possible to make links to your core science learning. GP practice visits are preceded by a briefing organised by the Course Organiser and followed by a final review session at the University. This final session will be led by two GPs and a patient who has a serious condition. Three days after the final session you are expected to submit a piece of written coursework which is a compulsory assessment for Second MB.

 Aims

  • to support you to interact respectfully and ethically with patients
  • to allow you to take their first step to conduct a medical interview
  • to show the linkage between core science learning and clinical practice including patients’ health problems and experiences
  • to establish practical illustrations of themes established within the Social Context of Health and Illness course
  • to enable you to reflect upon your experience demonstrating knowledge, skills and attitudes.

Objectives

By the end of the PfP programme, you should be able to:

  • conduct a simple medical interview, discussing with patients their health problems, their experience of them and their expectations of health care
  • demonstrate understanding of the principles of consent and confidentiality and the practicalities of respecting consent and preserving confidentiality
  • identify what influenced the success of their interviews from the perspective of the patient and themselves
  • look across their experiences with different patients in General Practice to identify a challenge during an interview and to consider potential solutions
  • make links between themes in the Social Context of Health and Illness course and real life experience
  • reflect on your experience demonstrating knowledge, skills and attitudes

 

PfP B: Meeting patients in hospital - Year 2

In your second year, you will take part in a programme of visits to patients in hospital. These experiences will enable you to look at clinical problems relevant to the core science teaching and again allow you to explore patients’ experience of these problems and their expectations of health care, but now in the secondary care setting. As in PfP A, you will attend briefing and review sessions. You will be instructed in an interviewing format with increased complexity compared to that used in PfP A.

Each student will undertake two visits. Students at any one hospital site in the region will be divided into groups of 12 to meet a tutor from the hospital and be briefed about their task. You will be sent to see patients in pairs. As far as possible patients will be chosen with problems that reflect systems and material being studied in the core medical science course. After the experience, you will meet to debrief in your group with a tutor to look at not only the scientific basis of the patients’ medical problems, but also how such diseases affect patients’ lives. You will be expected to submit a piece of written coursework on PfP B which is a compulsory assessment for Second MB.

Aims

  • to enable you to further explore patients’ experience and understanding of illness
  • to continue and extend your introduction to the medical interview
  • to link students’ core science learning to patients’ experiences of illness
  • to enable you to reflect upon your experience to gain a better understanding of your knowledge, skills and attitudes.

Objectives

By the end of the PfP B programme you should be able to:

  • conduct a more complex medical interview than in PfP A, discussing with patients the reasons for their admission to hospital, the symptoms that they have suffered, their experience of their health problems and their expectations of health care
  • understand the feelings and experiences of being a patient in hospital and identify good practice that helps to improve patients’ experiences
  • identify what influenced the success of your interviews from the point of view of the patient and from your own perspective in gathering information about disease and illness
  • explain a characteristic of a patient’s illness in terms of your knowledge of core science relevant to medicine
  • reflect on your experience demonstrating knowledge, skills and attitudes.

 

PfP C: Community Experience - Year 2/3

Health care is often mistakenly taken to mean care provided in general practice or hospital. However many more agencies, groups, organisations and networks are involved in supporting people with health problems in the community. PfP C has been developed to enable you to experience health care in a wider context within society by exploring such organisations. During the summer vacation between your second and third years, you will be asked to select and visit a complementary medicine therapist (such as an acupuncturist) and a voluntary organisation (such as CRUSE). You will be asked to explore the services provided from the perspective of a client trying to access the services. The briefing for this module will occur at the end of the Lent term, with the actual experience taking place in the long vacation. You will visit an agency of your choice, probably near your home. This experience will be debriefed in College supervisions in the first term of the third year by your College Director of Clinical Studies. You will be expected to submit a piece of written coursework on PfP C which is a compulsory assessment for Second MB.


Aims of PfP C

  • to provide you with the opportunity to experience medicine in a wider context within society by exploring, from a user’s perspective, agencies, groups, organisations and networks that are involved in supporting people with health problems in the community
  • to enable you to reflect upon your experience to gain a better understanding of your knowledge, skills and attitudes

Objectives of PfP C

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • describe the services provided to support people with health problems by the agencies, groups, organisations or networks visited in the community
  • assess the strengths and weaknesses of such services and how they interface with the work of primary and secondary health care teams
  • define the evidence that would help a medical practitioner evaluate the value of such services to users
  • understand the ease or difficulty that clients have in accessing these services
  • reflect on how visiting these agencies, groups, organisations or networks has affected their understanding of the provision of health care in society
  • reflect on your experience demonstrating knowledge, skills and attitudes.

 

PfP D: Continuity of Care - Year 3

The fourth experience for students, to be undertaken in the third pre-clinical year, will be a longitudinal continuity of care module in which you will follow a patient in the community over time in their own home. This will be through the study of the effect of pregnancy and childbirth on a mother-to-be and her family. The experience will provide an opportunity to consider the life-changing effects on one individual and her family, over the course of a year and give you a further insight into people’s experience of health care.  After an initial preparation session you will arrange four visits to the pregnant woman, in pairs, in your own time. At the end of the programme, there will be centrally organised review sessions. However, you will also be actively supported throughout this experience by both the Course Organisers and College Directors of Clinical Studies. You will be expected to submit a piece of written coursework on PfP D which is a compulsory assessment for Second MB.

Aims

  • to continue and extend your introduction to conducting the medical interview
  • to enable you to appreciate the importance of developing an ongoing patient-doctor relationship
  • to show the linkage between the human reproduction and patients’ experiences
  • to enable you to reflect upon your experience to gain a better understanding of your knowledge, skills and attitudes

Objectives of PfP D

By the end of the PfP D programme, you should have:

  • built a relationship with a pregnant woman over a period of time, developing a deeper understanding than can be achieved in just one meeting
  • conducted a series of extended medical interviews, discussing with one woman her pregnancy, her experience of it and her expectations of maternity care
  • explored the different roles of professionals involved with pregnancy
  • considered how the family as a whole is affected by a pregnancy
  • made links between core science learning and women’s experiences of pregnancy
  • reflected on your experience demonstrating knowledge, skills and attitudes.