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Discipline of General Practice

The Discipline of General Practice aims to improve general medical practice and primary health care through education, research and health service improvement initiatives. We also engage in program and policy development related to general practice and primary health care in urban and rural settings.

Our discipline was established in 1993 and is based in the College of Medicine and Public Health.


We are involved in delivering quality teaching into the Doctor of Medicine (MD) program through:


Year 2 General Practice Intensive Week

The General Practice Intensive Week is attended by all Flinders Medical Centre based Year 2 Doctor of Medicine students. This is part of the Introduction to Clinical Performance (ICP) module. This intensive is run in three identical 4-day program rounds with students split into cohorts for small group learning and hands on clinical activities.

The focus of the General Practice Intensive Week program is on common symptoms, issues and illnesses seen in general practice which include:

  • The GP approach to the consultation, communication and counselling skills
  • Case study exploring continuity of care and a holistic approach to patient care
  • Prevention and health promotion
  • Smoking cessation
  • Men’s health
  • Clinical skills, including ENT, eyes, diabetes, asthma, immunisation, sick certificates, prescription writing, breast examination, common musculoskeletal problems, common infections in adults and children, dermatology, complementary/alternative therapies and domestic violence awareness.


Year 2 Common Infections module

Flinders Medical Centre based Year 2 Doctor of Medicine students undertake the common infections module after the General Practice Intensive Week. The objectives of this module are to outline the key steps in assessing common infections in the general practice setting and to review the presentation, assessment and management using seven common infection scenarios.

These case studies are run in small tutorial groups and include detailed discussion of features in the history and examination that are useful in determining the diagnosis, likely and differential diagnosis, common microorganisms involved, appropriate treatment options (including anti microbial agents), condition prevention and recurrence minimisation and further investigations and ongoing management.


Year 3 Continuity of Care module

This topic facilitates an appreciation of continuity of care through a process in which Year 3 MD students develop an understanding of the links between continuity of care, the delivery of health care and improved patient outcomes, especially in a patient with more complex health needs.

Students are expected to follow one patient over time and experience a longitudinal dimension of health care delivery in the community.

Examples of suitable patients include a patient with more than one ongoing chronic illness, a patient who is receiving palliative care, a patient who is due to have an operation where there is a need for ongoing follow up and a child with an ongoing illness or need for ongoing review.

Student benefits

  • An opportunity to follow a patient longitudinally and be meaningfully involved in their care;
  • A chance to consolidate clinical knowledge and skills for a range of medical issues; and
  • Development of a greater insight into the patient’s experience of illness.

Assessment for this module is by the submission of a continuity of care transfer of care letter and a reflective essay. These components contribute to summative assessment for the Health Profession and Society MMED 8304/8305 topics.


Year 3 Urban General Practice placements

The Doctor of Medicine program has expanded across Years 3 and 4 with several streams of clinical placement models. For students in Year 3, many undertake an urban general practice longitudinal placement (Stream C and D), where they are immersed for four to six sessions per week for one semester within a practice. Other students (Stream A and B) undertake a weekly sessional placement across a semester and then those students undertake a six week full-time general practice placement in Year 4.

General practice attachments are essential learning locations for students. Some things can be learned only in general practice attachments as these teaching sessions provide invaluable opportunities for learners to integrate theory and practice in a way that strengthens both. The emphasis is on seeing, doing and receiving feedback, as practice attachments are where learners will see a wide range of ordinary patients with common problems.

The general practice term aims to develop history taking, physical examination skills, management, therapeutics, and ability to apply the scientific concepts acquired in Years 1 and 2 in a practical way in the context.

Defining the scope of skills and knowledge required for general practice presents a challenge. As a simple guide, it is intended that by the end of the term students will have:

1. Increased their understanding of:

  • the current context of general practice within the health care system;
  • why patients attend a general practitioner and how patients experience illness;
  • how general practitioners approach their consultations with patients;
  • community health resources and the practice of health promotion and disease prevention;
  • the value of teamwork in improving patient health status and continuity of care;
  • the assessment and management of a wide range of common clinical and psychosocial problems;
  • ethical issues in health care; and
  • the issues involved in looking after themselves as future doctors.

2. Further developed:

  • skills in clinical procedures, selective history taking and physical examination;
  • communication skills, especially in the areas of information gathering, explanations and breaking bad news; and
  • management skills already acquired and discover new skills needed in general practice.

3. Developed attitudes which:

  • recognise and acknowledge a patient-centred approach to care;
  • foster the incorporation of health promotion and disease prevention into every consultation; and
  • recognise the value of teamwork in improving patient health status.


Year 4 Ambulatory / General Practice terms

General Practice is an option for the compulsory Ambulatory Care rotation that must be completed by all Year 4 Doctor of Medicine students. Some students select this placement as part of their core rotations and others as part of their electives.

This rotation involves an attachment to clinical services which are focused on providing services in an outpatient or ambulatory care context. Students are attached to a health professional team and undertake day-to-day care including assessing patients, planning on-going management, carrying out basic procedures and arranging transfers and links to other service providers.

It is highly desirable that a free consulting room is available to enable parallel consulting. Students will attend the practice for nine half-day sessions per week with one half-day a week set aside for self-directed study.

This rotation allows students to extend their clinical skills and knowledge base through direct contact with patients. Students have the opportunity to be exposed to a wide range of clinical issues in the general practice setting, including opportunities for working with a range of health professionals within the GP team.

Educational aims

  • To enable students to consolidate and apply the knowledge already gained.
  • To refine clinical skills and knowledge in general practice and acquire experience in using these skills in patient evaluation and clinical diagnosis.
  • To expand existing skills in managing patients and thereby also expanding the student's knowledge of illness from a range of perspectives.
  • To enable the students to participate in the process of assessing and managing patients with chronic illnesses and developing a long term management plan and in liaising with other health professionals.
  • To enable students to gain an insight into a mix of health disciplines and the various approaches in assessing and managing common illnesses and maintaining health.

Learning objectives

  • To enhance communication and counselling skills relevant to the GP and primary health care setting.
  • To demonstrate attitudes, knowledge and skills that:
    • recognise and acknowledge a patient-centred approach to care;
    • foster the incorporation of prevention into every encounter with the patient;
    • recognise the value of teamwork in improving patient health status; and
    • demonstrate an understanding of the impact of the illness on the patient.
  • To demonstrate knowledge of common problems in a GP and primary health care settings and providers.
  • To enhance knowledge of the role of the GP in the health system.
  • To recognise the importance of the roles of all members of the health care team.


The academic staff of the Discipline of General Practice have a wide range of research interests. These include:

  • Chronic care coordination
  • Mental health
  • Biostatistics and epidemiology
  • Health service delivery
  • End-of-life care
  • Coordination and integration of health care
  • Workforce capacity building


Primary Health Care Research and Information Service

The Primary Health Care Research and Information Service is a research centre based in the Flinders University Discipline of General Practice at the College of Medicine and Public Health. PHCRIS generates, manages and shares research, information and knowledge about primary health care to accelerate the impact of research and evidence in policy and practice. This centre was initiated in 1995 and is currently led by Professor Richard L. Reed.

                              Visit the PHCRIS website