Having been through the whole journey myself, I can probably say as much as there is to say about it. It starts fairly early on in 1st year – in fact, I’m pretty sure it was in my 2nd week I got given the contact details of my patient. Basically how it works is that your GP tutors ask any patients with chronic (long term) medical conditions if they would like students to come and visit them in their home for a chat, once a year, for three years. If they agree, they get assigned to a student and you get provided with their contact details. I guess the thing with this is that no students experience is ever the same, which is good in a way.
Anyway, the first time you go to see your patient is in first year and you usually go with somebody else in your group, so you don’t get scared or anything. Also, this way it also lets you go and see two patients, as you’ve both been assigned a patient, so you get two journeys for the price of one! The patients live in Dundee, so travelling isn’t usually a problem either. Your first visit, you just get to know the patients and they get to know you. Half the time I don’t think we really even talked about their medical conditions on the first visit, we just blabbered on about where we were from and how we got into uni etc. etc. Each visit is meant to last an hour or so, but we stayed for a couple of hours and I know some people who went on for much longer than that! At the end of that meeting you get together with your partner and make a presentation to show to the rest of your group about your patient and their medical condition, and you watch all of their presentations too, so you get to know a bit about everyones patients.
Over the next 2 years, you visit them twice and get to see whats happened with them over time – if they’ve gotten worse, if they’ve gotten better, if they’ve had surgery, or, if nothing has happened at all! I have to say that, as a student, I don’t think you’ll have the opportunity to follow up a patient for 3 years to see how they’re doing anywhere else, so it’s a great opportunity and coming from experience, it’s great fun too. The patients are always happy to see you and over the 3 years, some patients have been known to get quite motherly and give you lots of tea and biscuits and check up on how you’re studies are doing too, which is nice!
So thats a brief about the patient journey – a big plus of the Dundee Course