The Training of Undergraduate Medical Students in General Medical Practice and Primary Health Care: A Scoping Review

Langalibalele Honey Mabuza*, Gabriel Gyang Darong, Sbongile Joyce Makhudu, Roisin E. Drysdale, Mosa Moshabela

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Undergraduate medical students are trained to acquire a general medical practice overview on qualifying. This training forms a foundation for primary health care service or further training towards a specialty of choice. Objective: The aim of the study was to determine the scope of published scientific literature on the training of undergraduate medical students in “general medical practice” and “primary health care,” exploring how these two concepts are understood, the pedagogical approaches employed by the trainers, the training platforms and the challenges encountered during the training. Methods: The review followed the five steps recommended by Arksey and O’Malley. Using the specified eligibility criteria, the research team systematically screened titles, abstracts, and full articles. Data were entered into Google Forms spreadsheets, which was followed by inductive data analysis of key themes. Results: 130 articles were eligible for inclusion in the study. Thematic analysis yielded eight themes: Definition of “general medical practice” and “PHC”, pedagogical approaches (conventional, PBL, teams and CBME), training platforms (tertiary and rural), medical students’ trainers (faculty, GPs and patients), training content, trainers’ and trainees’ perceptions, and challenges encountered. Conclusion: This scoping review has revealed that general medical practice and primary health care are approaches to holistic patient care taught at undergraduate medical training. Primary health care and general medical training are mainly undertaken in GP practices and rural settings. Competency-based medical education is emerging as an appropriate pedagogical method towards ‘fit-for-purpose’ training. The inclusion of patients as trainers in general medical practice and primary health care is yielding positive results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-570
Number of pages16
JournalOpen Public Health Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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