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Postgraduate medical training: getting patients on board
  1. Jennifer Heathcote, MA, FFFP, Staff Grade
  1. Central and Eastern Cheshire Primary Care Trust, Family Planning Clinic, Macclesfield District General Hospital, Macclesfield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jennifer Heathcote, Family Planning Clinic, Macclesfield District General Hospital, Victoria Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 3BL, UK. E-mail: drjennyheathcote{at}


Objectives To survey family planning clinic (FPC) patients who may be involved in the Diploma of the Faculty of Family Planning (DFFP) practical training; to obtain their views about the process of giving consent to their involvement; and to compare their views with current practice.

Methods Questionnaire surveys of 103 female FPC patients and 40 DFFP instructing doctors. Patients were recruited from the waiting room of a community FPC, and DFFP instructing doctors from the North West of England were recruited at an updating meeting.

Results Patients felt strongly that they wanted to know what to expect before deciding whether to agree to be involved in the training. Several items of information were requested. The most important of these were whether the training doctor would be seeing the patient alone; the gender of the training doctor; and the training doctor's level of experience. Patients had not always been given this information.

Conclusions Clinical experience is an important part of postgraduate medical training and patients need to be able to give fully informed consent to their involvement. The information currently given to patients may be insufficient. A reluctance to see male training doctors may have implications as regards the breadth of experience gained by male training doctors; this needs further investigation. Further research including different patient populations could inform guidelines for patient involvement in training.

  • dffp
  • patient consent
  • postgraduate
  • training

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