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GP Fellowships for extended professional skills


Dr James Bennett

NIHR In Practice Fellow, Clinical Education Facilitator


October 2023 to March 2026


Why this research is needed

There is a workforce crisis in primary care. Current attempts to address these issues and reverse the trend include education in the form of post-CCT fellowship programmes. What is not known is how effective these programmes are, and if they have any impact in retaining the GP workforce.

New research is needed describing how we educate and train GPs for sustainable careers in primary care.

This is the focus for my career and my IPF is the starting point. My future PhD will focus on changes needed in vocational GP training to better support the development of those extended skills. In turn promoting career longevity for new to practice clinicians, reducing GP workforce drop off, and making the future of general practice sustainable. What I want to know is what is working, for whom and where?

What we are doing

Fellowship schemes are varied in their content and models of delivery. CATALYST has an inbuilt evaluation project which is due to be published shortly, but there is little if anything in the wider literature for other fellowships.

Understanding how effective these programmes are is critical in identifying ongoing learning needs and opportunities for designing further educational intervention.

This could take the form of a national fellowship programme that is available for all, or fundamental changes to the current vocational training curriculum to address these needs before CCT.

My IPF will critically evaluate existing GP fellowship schemes to understand what extended skills are being developed, how this is happening, to whom and to what effect. My research question asks ‘How do current GP fellowship schemes impact on the extended skills of participants? What about the schemes is working, for whom, and in what context?’.

GP fellowships are a complex educational intervention and as such using realist methods to understand and evaluate them is appropriate.

This research is funded by an NIHR In Practice Fellowship.

What we found so far

I am currently in the process of mapping out the GP new to practice fellowship schemes across England. For the most part these are run by regional training hubs.

I am contacting all hubs to understand what they are offering, how their fellowships are organised and delivered and to scope for interest in an in depth evaluation. I will use this map to then select fellowships for inclusion in my realist evaluation later this year.

Contact us

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