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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
In Germany, like many other countries, general practice clerkships have only recently become mandatory during medical education. The biggest challenges for the organisation of such clerkships are achieving a minimum level of standardisation, and developing and maintaining a system of quality assurance. The aim of this study is to assess the instructional quality in teaching practices using a benchmark system.
Before commencing, students anonymously assessed the importance of core aspects of the mandatory primary care clerkship. After the clerkship, they evaluated learning opportunities and teaching performance. Based on this data, a benchmark system was developed to identify areas of strength and weakness for all practices as well as individual teaching practices.
A total of 695 students evaluated 97 general practices belonging to a teaching network. Prior to the clerkship, most students considered recognition of frequent diseases (85%) and communication skills (65%) the most important learning goals. After the clerkship, nearly 90% of students confirmed that the general practitioner (GP) was good or excellent at teaching these two goals but only two-thirds thought the GP's teaching performance good or excellent in preventive medicine and screening. In an exemplary analysis, we identified the 2 best and the 2 worst practices that consistently received scores far above or below average, respectively.
We were able to identify areas of weakness in teaching and identified specific GPs who did not meet the students' needs and expectations. This evaluation seems to be a useful quality assurance tool to identify the potential for improvement and faculty development.