Background: For many practicing clinicians, it may be easiest to access pos
tgraduate education through distance-learning programs. This article descri
bes the development and delivery of a course consisting of 2 papers (in obs
tetrics and in gynecology) taught at a distance using an audio-conference n
Description: Each of the papers consists of 6 modules. Together they consti
tute the academic component of a postgraduate diploma. Fulfilling a set of
practical requirements as specified in a logbook completes the diploma. The
old diploma was based on supervised clinical experience and bedside teachi
ng. The new diploma includes papers based on audio-conference sessions stru
ctured around patient problems. A course book provides all the essential re
ading together with learning objectives for each module and 'clinical trigg
ers' for the patient problems.
Evaluations: Throughout the course we routinely survey student perceptions
of the learning process and consistently they rate learning outcomes positi
vely. Short-term follow-up demonstrates that the course continues to be see
n as useful. The course is increasingly popular with interns, general pract
itioners, midwives, and nurses.
Conclusions: If is possible to develop a community of inquiry through a cou
rse based on patient problems using an audio-conference network.