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Fact sheet

Using medical students to engage with GP Practice

What is the initiative?
In partnership with the local university, Crossroads Care Staffordshire has been working with students to engage with GP Practice staff, and to give them a greater understanding of carers and their needs.

Who runs it?
The project is run by Keele University as a compulsory part of their training for medical students, in partnership with Crossroads Care Staffordshire.

Who does it benefit?
It benefits the medical students, the GP Practices, and Crossroads Care Staffordshire. The university also benefits more indirectly as a result of the training that the students receive.

What does it do?
The medical students are involved with Crossroads Care Staffordshire in two distinct, but linked ways. Earlier in their course (as second year students), they shadow Crossroads Care staff and speak to carers, increasing their understanding of carers issues.

Later, as fifth year students, they undertake a project, this one being to raise awareness with GP practices of Carers issues.

When did it start?
The work with the second year students, and the partnership with Keele University, started in 2009. The work with the fifth year students started in 2011.

Why was it started?
Several years ago Keele University’s medical school received independent licence to train medical professionals, meaning that they could devise their own teaching programme (previously they were certified by the University of Manchester). This provided them with an opportunity to develop their own approach to learning.

Crossroads Care Staffordshire became involved with this from the start to help give medical students an insight into the voluntary sector and carers issues. The programme has developed from there.

What are the aims and objectives of this project?

  • To raise awareness of Crossroads Care’s Services amongst future medical practitioners, and local GP Practices
  • To highlight to medical students and current healthcare practitioners the importance of carers taking a break
  • To leave a toolkit for the GP Practice, to support their work with carers and their engagement with Crossroads Care Staffordshire and for this toolkit to be used by Crossroads Care Staffordshire to share with other GP practices

How is it funded?
The initiative has no cost, as the university covers any administrative costs associated with the students’ placements. Crossroads Care Staffordshire actually receives a payment from the university for each of the students that take part in the scheme.

There is a cost of time and personnel resources to support the students, although this is minimal and only really applies to the fifth year students (the second year students are shadowing workers, and can actually provide a level of support for Crossroads staff).

  • What has it achieved*?
  • Increased awareness amongst the medical students
  • A legacy of tools and information that can be used by Crossroads Staffordshire when engaging with the GP Practices, such as referral forms, presentations etc.
  • A good relationship with the GP Practices that the students have been working in

Before the initiative with the fifth-year students started, there had not been any direct referrals of carers from GP Practices to Crossroads Care Staffordshire for over a decade; since November 2011 there have been 7 (when the initiative started).

How have carers been involved in planning and delivering this work?
Students who are going to work with GP Practices interview carers before they go in, to identify what issues are most relevant to them and to see how they can improve the carers’ lives through their work with the Practice.

Thinking of doing something similar?
Click on the link to see Setting up an initaitve using medical students to engage with GP Practices