Background During specialty training for general practice, trainees acquire the required competencies through work-based learning. Previous small-scale and older studies suggest that the patient mix of general practitioner (GP) trainees differs from that of their trainers: trainees are exposed to more minor illnesses, and fewer chronic diseases and severe conditions, which may influence the development of their competency.
Research question What are the differences in the patient mix between trainees and trainers?
Methods 49 first- and 24 third-year trainees and their trainers (n=114) were included in the study. International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC) contact and diagnosis codes were extracted from electronic patient records over 6 months.
Results Trainers had double the number of face-to-face consultations, and treble the number of telephone consultations compared with trainees. The trainees' patient mix consisted of significantly more patients with eye diseases, ear diseases, respiratory diseases, skin diseases and minor illnesses compared with their trainers. Trainers encountered significantly more patients with circulatory diseases, psychiatric diseases, metabolic diseases, male genital conditions, social problems, and chronic and oncological diseases. Female trainers and trainees encountered almost twice the number of female conditions compared with their male counterparts, while for male conditions, the opposite was found.
Discussion Considerable differences between the patient mix of trainers and trainees were found. Specialty trainers and teachers must be aware of areas of low exposure. Trainers should ensure trainees handle more chronic, complex, psychosocial and circulatory conditions.
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To cite: De Jong J, Visser MRM, Wieringa-de Waard M. Exploring differences in patient mix in a cohort of GP trainees and their trainers. BMJ Open 2011;1:e000318. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000318
Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was approved retrospectively by the Ethical Review Board of the Netherlands Association for Medical Education (NERB-ID 42) in an online procedure. Please note that this review board was instituted on 16 July 2010. Before this date, educational research did not require ethics approval because according to Dutch law no approval was needed.
Contributors JdJ was the primary investigator, designed the study, acquired, analysed and interpreted the data, wrote the article and approved the final version to be published. MRMV designed and supervised the study, assisted in the acquisition and interpretation of data, revised the article critically for important intellectual content, and approved the final version to be published. MWdW designed and supervised the study, assisted in the analysis and interpretation of data, revised the article critically for important intellectual content, and approved the final version to be published.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional data available.
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