Students’ conceptual model of a good community attachment


P A O’Neill Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, University of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PT, UK



In 1994, Manchester University Medical School introduced a new integrated curriculum using problem-based learning and which places an increased emphasis on community-based education.


Students commonly use a particular label (‘a good GP’ (general practitioner)) to describe a positive experience in the community. The purpose of the study was to explore what students mean by ‘a good GP’ and how this relates to their perceptions of the value of the community aspect of the course.


Three single-year focus groups were run with year 3, 4 and 5 students. A model was then derived which was explored and checked against the views of a cross-year focus group.


A theoretical model based on student conceptualization of ‘a good GP’ was developed. ‘A good GP’ was found to consist of the GP as a teacher, as a role model and as an indicator of a positive learning environment. With regard to ‘good teacher’, students felt that the GP’s enthusiasm about teaching and involving the student in an active learning process was important. For ‘good role model’, students emphasized communication skills and non-judgmental attitudes. With regard to ‘good learning environment’, a friendly atmosphere, variety of activities, and flexibility shown by the staff of the health centre were important.


Students hold a complex conceptual model of ‘a good GP’ which the label does not convey. We suggest that for evaluations of student experiences it is important to explore in depth what students mean by particular terms or labels.