Background In 1994, Manchester University Medical School introduced a new i
ntegrated curriculum using problem-based learning and which places an incre
ased emphasis on community-based education.
Aims Students commonly use a particular label ('a good GP' (general practit
ioner)) to describe a positive experience in the community. The purpose of
the study was to explore what students mean by 'a good GP' and how this rel
ates to their perceptions of the value of the community aspect of the cours
Method Three single-year focus groups were ran with year 3, 4 and 5 student
s. A model was then derived which was explored and checked against the view
s of a cross-year focus group.
Results A theoretical model based on student conceptualization of 'a good G
P' was developed. 'A good GP' was found to consist of the GP as a teacher,
as a role model and as an indicator of a positive learning environment. Wit
h regard to 'good teacher', students felt that the GP's enthusiasm about te
aching and involving the student in an active learning process was importan
t. For 'good role model', students emphasized communication skills and non-
judgmental attitudes. With regard to 'good learning environment', a friendl
y atmosphere, variety of activities, and flexibility shown by the staff of
the health centre were important.
Conclusions Students hold a complex conceptual model of 'a good GP' which t
he label does not convey. We suggest that for evaluations of student experi
ences it is important to explore in depth what students mean by particular
terms or labels.