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Education And Debate

Primary care–opportunities and threats Developing professional knowledge: Making primary care education and research more relevant

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 15 March 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:817
  1. Pauline Pearson, senior lecturer in primary care nursinga,
  2. Kevin Jones, senior lecturer in primary health carea
  1. a Department of Primary Health Care Medical School Newcastle University Newcastle NE2 4HH
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Jones

    The trio of recent government white papers heralds a new world for primary care. Many changes in the education of future primary health care professionals and in the research ethos of the discipline will be needed to realise this vision. New skills and attitudes, not least in multidisciplinary working; lifelong learning; and greater understanding of and participation in primary care research will have to emerge from educational efforts in the next few years.


    The government's ambition is for a high quality, integrated health service which responds to the health needs of individual patients sensitively and cost effectively.1 The white paper Primary Care: Delivering the Future offers a range of suggestions for developing professional education and research in primary care so that such a service can be realised,2 and Primary Care: Choice and Opportunity provides the framework for these developments.3 In this article we ask: how ready is primary health care to respond to this vision for the future? In particular, what are the opportunities and threats for education and research inherent in these proposals?

    Five important themes have been highlighted (box). Underlying these themes is the need to integrate development and thinking about research, clinical audit, clinical guidelines, and professional education.

    Themes highlighted in while papers on primary care12

    • More education and training should be multidisciplinary, in order to promote effective multidisciplinary working

    • There should be more opportunities for health professionals to train in primary and community care settings

    • Continuing education should meet the needs both of primary care staff and the service

    • The research and development base in primary care should be strengthened

    • Clinical audit in primary care should be further developed

    Research and development

    The government wants a more research based primary care service; it is trying to encourage primary care professionals to see participation in research as a welcome necessity in higher professional training. Primary …

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