Despite the fact that family medicine (FM) has become established as a specialty in the past 25 years, this has not been reflected in the inclusion of the specialty in the majority of medical schools in Spain. Almost 40% of the students will work in primary care but, in spite of this, most universities do not have an assessed placement as such. There are only specific practice periods in health centres or some student-selected components with little weight in the overall curricula.
To evaluate the attitudes and perceptions of medical students about FM in the health system and their perception about the need for specific training in FM at the undergraduate level. To explore change over time of these attitudes and perceptions and to examine potential predictive factors for change. Finally, we will review what teaching activity in FM is offered across the Spanish schools of medicine.
Descriptive cross-sectional survey. Each one of the different analyses will consist of two surveys: one for all the students in the first, third and fifth year of medical school in all the Spanish schools of medicine asking about their knowledge, perceptions and attitudes in relation to primary care and FM. There will be an additional survey for the coordinating faculty of the study in each university about the educational activities related to FM that are carried out in their centres. The repetition of the study every 2 years will allow for an analysis of the evolution of the cohort of students until they receive their degree and the potential predictive factors.
This study will provide useful information for strategic planning decisions, content and educational methodology in medical schools in Spain and elsewhere. It will also help to evaluate the influence of the ongoing changes in FM, locally and at the European level, on the attitudes and perceptions of the students towards FM in Spain.
There is a need to explore further the reasons for which students choose a specific specialty for training and future practice. This protocol outlines the design of a cross-sectional survey to evaluate attitudes and perceptions of medical students about family medicine.
The project will assess the potential impact of medical school teaching on the final profiles of students, both in perceptions and expectations and in the choice of specialty.
This is a protocol of a multicentre survey that will take place in Spanish medical schools. The study includes a survey for students and one for the coordinators of family medicine in each centre.
The repetition of the student survey every 2 years will allow for an analysis of the evolution of student cohorts until the end of their studies.
The results of this study will provide valuable information for curriculum development related to family medicine in the different schools of medicine and will help to prioritise those activities that are likely to be most effective for promoting this specialty.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The research team for this study includes coordinating faculty from 22 of the 27 universities throughout Spain. The study will be repeated every 2 years and will explore change over time of the issues addressed.
The principal limitations of this study are related to its design, of observational nature. The results observed will serve as hypotheses generating and cannot be regarded as definitive. Finally, the fact that the survey will be anonymous will impede the evaluation, at an individual level, of change over time.