The Role of the KUMEC Community Teaching Practice Liaison
We believe strongly that our undergraduate medical students should receive a significant part of their education in the community. Our Stage 2 (Year 2) students undertake a longitudinal placement in General Practice and our Stage 3 (Year 5) students undertake an 8 week block placement in General Practice.
Allocating over 2400 students to their general practice placements and campus block groups, across 300 teaching practices and with over 600 tutors is a major undertaking for everyone involved. Communication is a key to the success of our community teaching programme.
This webpage outlines the role of a “Teaching Practice Liaison” - essential for co-ordination and communication between teachers, practice staff, students and KUMEC.
Who is the teaching-practice liaison?
“Liaison” is the title we have given to the person named by the practice as the KUMEC point of contact to help organise our teaching in a general practice. For small practices we might contact a GP directly. In very large practices, there may be more than one liaison person. The liaison may be any one of the following: Practice Manager, GP, Other practice-based teaching staff, Receptionists, Administrators or Secretaries. We use one central liaison email address for all correspondence from KUMEC staff, so it is vital that this information is kept up-to-date.
What do teaching-practice liaison people do?
The teaching practice liaison acts as our main point of contact in the practice. They coordinate teaching activities within a practice team. They reply to our correspondence on behalf of all of the teachers in the practice. They may help with selecting and consenting patients for student teaching, or preparing the practice space for teaching if a seminar is taking place.
The practice liaison also carries out a number of important administrative tasks They complete important on-line documentation needed by KUMEC, such as the Teaching Availability Form (TAF). They provide us with up-to-date information with regard to staff contact details, sudden changes in teaching capacity and/or changes in GMC registration for their tutors.
Why is the liaison role so important to good community teaching?
Our teaching programme can be complex because it is very tightly timetabled to mesh with hospital and campus-based teaching; if a practice is taking a several students across a variety of years a number of practice-based teachers may be involved. We therefore require a consistent link between us, our teachers and our students. We count on the liaison person to facilitate the flow of information between all those involved in the teaching programme – teachers, students, KUMEC administrators and other community staff such as administrators or receptionists. They will also be the initial holder of information for use throughout the practice, such as the Quick Reference Guides (QRGs) and practice benefits pack.
What could happen without a dedicated KUMEC liaison role?
Without a consistent, identified contact person at the practice, our contacting GP teachers and other practice-based staff can become a challenge. It would be difficult for us to feel sure that information was being disseminated promptly within the practice. It is also likely that students would find it much harder to contact their GP teachers directly and to get information about placement activities and schedules. Without the liaison to distribute teaching agreements at the beginning of every academic year, partners and practice-based teaching staff might not be clear about their contractual teaching commitments. In the absence of strong on-site coordination which the liaison provides, we risk students’ final evaluation of their community learning experience being labelled as disorganized, and focusing on poor organisational issues rather than the quality of the teaching.
Challenges a liaison person might face
We are aware that the liaison person will have a number of roles in their practice, and that their work with KUMEC is just one of them. Typically busy times for KUMEC work will be when the TAF needs returning and in the weeks preceding student placements, so it is worth factoring this in to your schedule and any plans for leave.
It is the liaison’s responsibility to try to find an alternative solution if a teacher is unable to teach a scheduled session. However, if you are unable to fill the session in-house, then please contact the KUMEC team as we can sometimes find a locum tutor to help. Rarely, teaching needs to be cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances. This creates a lot of logistical problems with student timetables, so is best avoided. If it is unavoidable, then please contact KUMEC at the earliest opportunity.
If you are having difficulty with students not responding to contact, or any concerns about time-keeping, attitude or behaviour, please contact the KUMEC administrative team. Often a problem is one in a series of low-level concerns and can help us build a picture of a student in need of help, before they become a student facing fitness to practice issues!
Making absolutely sure patients for teaching are appropriately informed and verbally consented is a role many practice managers and liaison people undertake in a community teaching practice. All patients must be asked for consent and given an easy opportunity to decline, in the knowledge that it will not adversely affect their clinical care.
How can practices support their King’s teaching liaison?
Practices should encourage the liaison person to come to KUMEC annual briefing or networking sessions. A teaching practice should recognize the importance of the liaison person’s role and all the associated expectations for delivering a successful undergraduate teaching programme and provide protected time for them to carry out their liaison work.
Email and using the links to online Teaching Availability (TAF) are key
Communications with practices largely rely on e-mail. The Liaison person should always provide KUMEC staff with an updated and regularly-functioning (checked daily) email address at the practice