As part of my role, I teach medical and nursing students in general practice.

This past week I have spent some time assessing the performance of various nursing and medical students and marked several abstracts which have been submitted for a student conference. It was part way through this process that I reflected on the point of clear introductions.

With my feedback for the students in a practice setting, I commented that timekeeping was an issue, so that when things get busy, it is important to be mindful of what else is occurring and prioritise the work that needs to be done. I was a little surprised when the unanimous response was that this was not stipulated during the introduction to the practice, so how were they to know? Being the open-minded person that I am, I looked at this from both sides. From their perspective, yes they were not told about this issue in the introduction to the practice. However, thinking with common sense, I thought it was pretty obvious; when things get busy, you need to prioritize your work.

In fact a main criticism of newly qualified house officers and nurses on the hospital wards is that some doctors cannot prioritise their workload. This skill will take time to learn, but it is still a skill based on common sense.

My second similar issue came from marking some poster presentation abstracts. The criteria were published along with the application form. This clearly stated a word limit of 250 words, including titles and references. Imagine my surprise when nearly half the submissions were OVER 250 words, with the majority being over without titles and references being included.

This has worked against the students submitting the above abstracts, which is a shame as some of the submissions were very high quality.

So what have I learnt from this week?

1. I will take up the point about stating the need for prioritising work in a clinical setting, in the student introduction (although it seems to me to be common sense).

2. Remind students about their professional responsibilities and to use common sense in the absence of specific guidance.

3. Remind people to read instructions.

4. Ignoring the above, means you will be barred or failed.

For next week the blog takes a temporary break as I will be at the RCGP annual conference presenting a piece on the use of technology in primary care and for CPD. That presentation will be on here for all to read, prepare to learn technobabble.

  • Keep these articles ciomng as they’ve opened many new doors for me.