A picture tells 1000 words: learning teamwork in primary care

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Abstract

Background:

Teamwork and patient centredness are frequently articulated concepts in medical education, but are not always explicit in the curriculum. In Ireland, recent government policy emphasises the importance of a primary care team approach to health care. We report on an appraisal of a newly introduced community-based student attachment, which focused on teamwork.

Aim:

To review students’ experience of teamwork following a community clinical placement by examining student assignments: essays, poetry, music and art.

Methods:

Year-2 graduate-entry students (n = 45) spent 2 weeks with a primary care team. Attachments comprised placements with members of the primary care team, emphasising team dynamics, at the end of which students submitted a representative piece of work, which captured their learning. Essays (n = 22) were analysed using a thematic content analysis. Artwork consisted of painting, collage, photography, poetry and original music (n = 23). These were analysed using Gardner’s entry points.

Results:

Three core themes emerged in both written and visual work: patient centredness; communication; and an improved appreciation of the skills of other health care professionals. Students identified optimal team communication occurring when patient outcomes were prioritised. Metaphors relating to puzzles, hands and inter-connectedness feature strongly. The poems and artwork had a high impact when they were presented to tutors.

Conclusion:

Primary care team placements focus student attention on teamwork and patient centredness. Student artwork shows potential as a tool to evaluate student learning in medical education.

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