Educational assessment of general practice experience for psychiatric trainees.
Burns T., MacDonald L., Sibbald B., Gask L., Roberts G.
Eighteen psychiatric trainees spent 6 months each as general practice trainees. The educational impact of the experience was assessed by a self-assessment questionnaire, a semi-structured interview and a videotaped interview with a psychiatric patient. Each assessment was conducted at a baseline and after 12 months. A control group of 14 trainees was recruited from the same rotation. On the self-assessment questionnaire, the study registrars rated their abilities to solve general medical problems significantly improved compared to controls. They had also acquired greater understanding of the limitation of their knowledge and their legal responsibilities towards their patients. The semi-structured interview failed to distinguish between the two groups. Videotapes for rating at baseline and follow-up were available for only 17 of the trainees. Assessment of the tapes used the Maguire Scale and the Interview Behaviour Scale. Neither scale demonstrated any intervention effect. The interviews were all characterized by a preponderance of 'closed psychological' and 'checking-out' questions. It appears that psychiatric trainees' interviewing styles had not been influenced by the experience. This study suggests that psychiatric trainees gain greater confidence in their role as a doctor and greater understanding of the scope and nature of general practice by such an attachment. It is unclear whether or not supplementary interviewing skills had been acquired which were not utilized in the taped interview, which conforms very much to traditional psychiatric examination behaviour. Trainees were reassured that they had increased their knowledge without losing any of their specific professional skills.