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Preparing for Patients

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


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.