General practitioners' views on continuing medical education.


BACKGROUND. The 1990 contract for general practitioners altered the provision of continuing medical education. AIM. This study set out to examine doctors' experiences of postgraduate education before and after the contract and their preferences for the provision of postgraduate education. METHOD. In 1991 a structured questionnaire was sent to 1959 doctors registered on the database held by the west of Scotland postgraduate office. RESULTS. An 82% response rate was obtained. Eighty eight questionnaires had to be excluded. Of 1523 respondents, 74% were entitled to study leave under the terms of their practice agreement, an increase of 15% since the introduction of the contract. When attending courses 11% reported that they always employed a locum (32% occasionally). Those who did so were more likely to be general practitioners in rural areas than in urban or mixed areas. Almost all respondents (1485, 98%) had participated in postgraduate education since April 1990. Lectures remained popular (47% of respondents indicated it was their preferred or most preferred choice) while distance learning and practice based learning were least preferred. Evening meetings and afternoon meetings were the most popular, and Wednesday and Thursday were reported to be the most suitable days for educational meetings. CONCLUSION. Organizing education for a large number of people is difficult, but individuals' preferences and difficulties have emerged which must be taken into account when doing so. In terms of attendance, postgraduate education seems to have been a success although its value in influencing quality of care is more doubtful. Perhaps the development of personal education plans may make learning more useful and relevant.

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