More than 10,000 aspiring medics sign up for virtual GP work experience during COVID-19 crisis

Publication date: 05 August 2020

The Royal College of GPs’ free, virtual and interactive general practice work experience platform, launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, has received 10,000 registrations within its first three months.

The interactive Observe GP video platform is aimed at aspiring medics aged 16+ who wish to learn more about general practice. Initially developed by the RCGP to provide an innovative way for students to shadow the primary care team, the platform has allowed them to insight of what it’s like to work in general practice from their homes while the country has been in lockdown.

The 10,000+ registered aspiring medics can access a series of pre-recorded videos and take part in activities to gain an understanding of primary care, as they would during a traditional work experience placement in a GP surgery. New videos and additional content will be added to the platform in the future to reflect the evolving general practice landscape.

Each year UK medical schools receive approximately 20,000 applications. As part of the process, students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of the realities of medicine, often through clinical work experience. However, placements are traditionally hard to find for reasons including the intense workload pressures GPs and their teams are working under. As such, Observe GP has already been publicly endorsed by more than half of UK medical schools.

Observe GP is part of the College’s 'Discover General Practice' programme, which aims to explore the opportunities associated with a career in general practice. The videos were filmed at Attenborough Practice in Bushey, Hertfordshire; Liberty Road Practice in Stratford, East London; and Sawston Medical Centre, Cambridge, before the COVID-19 pandemic began. It shows GPs and members of the wider practice team providing care to patients using real-life scenarios. 
 
Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Many aspiring doctors will have watched with admiration as GPs and colleagues across the NHS have gone above and beyond throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – it’s important we engage with those students to highlight general practice as a viable career option, and Observe GP has been an excellent vehicle for doing so.

"Ten thousand registrations in four months is incredibly encouraging for the future of our profession, particularly when you consider that UK medical schools receive around 20,000 applicants each school year. This level of engagement reflects that a significant number of aspiring medics are interested in general practice and for good reason - being a GP can be the best job in the world. 
 
"Observe GP can be used at any time by any one so the limitations of traditional work experience such as schedule clashes and social inequalities are eliminated. 
 
"COVID-19 has also presented as a challenge for many students who planned to use their summer holidays to gain relevant work experience but we hope that initiatives, such as GP Observe will prove useful in providing an alternative for bright aspiring medics at a time when we’re all working differently."

Observe GP user, aged 17, said: "It’s amazing, it literally gives you an idea of how GPs actually work, it also provides you with an idea about who you could become someday, and how important the role of a GP is.

"Observe GP is simply a wonderful platform which has allowed me to develop as a person and gain a deeper insight into the stresses and rewards of being a general practitioner. Working my way through this platform has allowed me to certainly see myself as a GP in the future and I would thoroughly recommend it to all aspiring medics."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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