General Practice & Community Medical Education

General Practice & Community Medical Education

The General Practice and Community Medical Education (GPCME) teaching team are based in the Polwarth Building at the Foresterhill campus, and we provide core teaching to all five years of the MBChB course.  Delivery of this teaching is in both classroom lead activities and on placement with GP Practices. 

Years 1-3 are delivered by a core network of local GP Practices and in years 4 and 5 the GP block consists of both core teaching and clinical placements.

Our curriculum is constantly reviewed and updated.


General Practice teaching is supported by a core team based at the University, both in Aberdeen and Inverness and by a group of clinical tutors who help to provide tutorials for all years.  These are either based in practice or by facilitating the small group tutorials which are provided in the senior years.

GPCME can be contacted by emailing this email is monitored daily.

Core Team

  • Dr John McKeown - Head of Teaching
  • Prof Val Wass - Clinical Chair in General Practice Medical Education
  • Dr Ken Lawton - Deputy Head of Teaching
  • Dr Shirley Laird - Years 1 to 3 Coordinator
  • Dr Fiona Parker - Senior Clinical Lecturer Y4-5 Placement Co-ordinator
  • Dr Naomi Dow -  Senior Clinical Lecturer Y1-3
  • Dr Linzi Lumsden - Senior Clinical Lecturer Y1-3 Evaluation
  • Dr Fiona Marr - Senior Clinical Lecturer Y1-3
  • Dr David MacLeod - Senior Clinical Lecturer Y1-3
  • Dr Laura Muirhead - Senior Clinical Lecturer Y4-5 Evaluation
  • Mrs Sarah Gray - GP Administrator
  • Mrs Irene Pacitti - Institute Administration Coordinator - Years 1 to 3 GP
  • Institute Administration Coordinator GP Enhanced
  • Hannah Coldwells - Institute Administration Coordinator GP Placements Year 4 and 5
  • Debby Skinner - Y4-5 GP Admin Support
Year 1 to 3 GP Teaching

Years 1 - 3

GP Teaching in Years 1, 2 and 3 is delivered as part of the MBChB Programme .

In Year 1, the course focuses on "Health and Normality", and in Years 2 and 3 it moves to "Illness, Disease and Disability". 

The teaching recognises a pattern of medical care that renders medicine in the community of increasing importance to medical students. Changes contributing to this include:

  • Increasing relative importance of chronic diseases, that are mainly managed at home: as death from infectious disease has become less common, so the prevalence of degenerative disease has increased
  • A shift in focus of care from hospital towards the community, for conditions such as diabetes and asthma
  • Decreasing average length of stay in hospital, particularly with surgical conditions

As a result of this pattern, confinement of students’ clinical study to the hospital will not expose more than the iceberg’s tip, which although sharp, often represents an unusual presentation in unusual circumstances. Illnesses prevalent within the community may not produce much “blood and guts”, but they will fill a large part of our graduates’ professional lives.

The main underlying principles of the design and delivery of the course are:

  • Allow early patient contact, promoting the relevance of medical study and a sense of professional identity
  • Promote a patient-centred “holistic” approach to the provision of medical care
  • Consider medicine and patients on three levels: individual, society, population
  • Unify rather than perpetuate artificial divisions in the ethos of medical care, by adopting a multidisciplinary approach
  • Allow comparison of community with hospital patients, and facilitate learning from the differences
  • work with an adult learning model, including individual research, group learning, reflection on experience, and theorising from practical examples
  • Facilitate personal development of individuals (skills and attitudes)

The first part of the course is entitled Humans in Society and covers three years:

  • Year 1  “Health and Normality”
  • Year 2 and 3  “Illness, Disease and Disability”

As these suggest, it is the intention to begin by studying definitions and meanings of health, with factors that can influence this. In Years 2 and 3 we concentrate on the effects of disease on patients’ lives and those of their families and communities.

GP Enhanced

During the first 3 years of the MBChB course you will be offered various opportunities as part of the GP Enhanced Programme, this includes GP led case study sessions as part of the systems teaching as well as different extra-curricular sessions.  These have all been carefully designed to help integrate with the learning from the MBChB course to show the primary and secondary care interface.

GP Enhanced carries into years 4 and 5 with the delivery of the core teaching.

Year 4 and 5 GP Teaching

Year 4

Students who are allocated Aberdeen administered practices spend 6 weeks in a general practice surgery in or around Aberdeen, Grampian, or the Fife area or for the Inverness administered practices, in and around the immediate vicinity of Inverness.

The emphasis is on reinforcing the principles of medical knowledge and skills already gained through Years 1, 2 and 3 in the secondary care setting and considering their application in primary care.  There is also a requirement to look at the wider aspects of primary care, including the contribution made by a range of other health care professionals.

Your GP placement may be the main or sole opportunity that you will have to see the unfiltered range of illness that presents for medical attention outside of the hospital.  All our aims stem from this opportunity to see (and ideally to try out) the practice of clinical methods in the context of the community.  Here you will see illnesses that are new to you and new stages of illnesses that you have already seen in hospital, but at a different point.

You will be closer to the patient’s environment and should see more of the psychological and social implications of illness. You will be able to talk to patients at home and in a consulting room in a more intimate way than you could in hospital.

You will work with doctors who have had to modify their approach and clinical methods to this setting and you should learn how to adapt your own basic skills to the more rapid problem-solving approach which is best demonstrated in general practice but which can equally be required in a hospital setting (eg out-patients) and which is known to be the way in which experienced clinicians of all sorts work.

You will be exposed to the wide diversity of patient culture along with the more general holistic approach of primary care.  The experience should therefore prove to be of great value to all of you regardless of your subsequent career choices.

Year 5 (Aberdeen & Inverness)

You will spend one week in Aberdeen undertaking core teaching, this working with your fellow students studying a range of conditions that are common to both General Practice and Psychiatry. The rest of your attachment will be spent in a General Practice, Psychiatry or joint GP/Hospital placement as well as some specific GP teaching.

General Practice in the UK is the gate keeper for health care. 90% of patient contacts within the Health Service occur in Primary care. Illnesses range from minor and self-limiting to major and life threatening; patient ages range from months to one hundred years; the range of knowledge required is from psychology to surgery, or cardiology to immunopathology.

General Practitioners spend more time working as generalists than other specialities and have therefore successfully developed the skills needed to work with patients in the community. Our tutors are keen to share their enthusiasm for medical care in the community with you.