Clinical scholarship is an integral part of everything we do in General Practice. It is our professional capacity to use and generate knowledge in everyday practice to enhance patient care. Whatever your portfolio of practice roles - be they patient-focused, education, research, quality improvement, leadership and others - you will be actively involved in knowledge work on a daily basis. What these roles have in common is the Bananarama principle: it's not what you know that matters, but how you use what you know.
We have spoken with many GPs, trainees and students. You have told us that you want to develop your knowledge work skills. But often you don’t know where to start. We have pulled together a number of resources to help. Click on the links below to find out more.
Getting started in clinical scholarship
Whether you are a student interested in quality improvement or a career in research or an experienced healthcare professional looking to enhance your clinical practice or develop your portfolio role, everyone has to start somewhere. A personal and professional responsibility of being a healthcare professional is being able to understand and apply knowledge to help solve the problems presented by the patient in front of you. This requires an ability to ask the right questions, find the appropriate evidence, appraise this evidence in a way that is rigorous and place it within the context of the patient.
EBM is the model of knowledge work for practice that we are traditionally taught and is an important and useful skill. However, there is growing recognition that it is insufficient for much of the everyday practice that we do.
What is evidence based practice?
Knowledge work of generalist practice
Knowledge work for extended practice: Starting a new project?
Click here to find out about how others do knowledge work in General Practice
Developing your ideas and gaining further training
You may already have already started your project, or you may be part of a research active General Practice team who are keen to explore how you can develop your ideas further. Making connections with like-minded people in General Practice scholarship is an invaluable way to learn and develop your portfolio of skills. A growing proportion of healthcare professionals have extended portfolio roles which use enhanced scholarship skills. A smaller proportion of GPs work as academic GPs - clinicians with advanced training in research and/or education skills to enable them to take up formal positions within Universities. There are many different ways to gain further training in scholarship skills as well as getting involved with academic training at all stages of your career.
Training for academic clinical careers
Progressing in General Practice scholarship
Scholarship skills are wide and varied, and there already exist a number of fantastic resources and courses to develop your expertise in research, education and quality improvement activities. See the WiseCareers pages for more information on training and courses.
Quality improvement aims to make a difference to patients by improving their safety, effectiveness and experience of care. It involves applying a systematic approach to designing, testing and implementing change in real time using measurements for improvement. Audit, similarly prioritises patient safety and the effectiveness and experience of care, but measures practice against performance. These are skills that trainees are encouraged to learn early and are valuable throughout your career. These form part of scholarship, which includes not only using external knowledge but also creating and analysing new information to improve patient care. Below are some resources to help you gain the skills for all aspects of scholarship.
Some ideas for topics to focus your project on are included in our GEMS library – see GEMs professional development ideas - Click here
The RCGP QI ready pages are also useful for QI project ideas - Click here
University Hospitals Bristol guides on how to perform clinical audit - Click here
Bradford VTS examples of audit/ QIP activities - Click here
Reviewing the existing literature is an important skill to inform the development of your ideas.
CRD guidance for undertaking reviews in healthcare - Click here
How to make sense of a Cochrane systematic review - Click here
Learning how to read journal articles can be great and the @GPJournalClub on Twitter is a great place to start to understand how to critically appraise scientific papers relevant to primary care. Click here
Having an understanding of epidemiology and statistics is a useful tool for clinical scholarship.
MRCGP level statistics and beyond - Click here
Bradford VTS website resources on statistics - Click here
NIHR resources to improve statistic literacy - Click here
Appropriate access to data and managing this data safely is an important part of scholarship in healthcare.
RCGP Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) - Click here
University of Southampton tips on how to manage your data - Click here
Scholarship skills are relevant to everyday clinical practice too, find out how here.
BMJ Article on communicating risk - Click here
Communicating evidence - recent BJGP paper - Click here
Involving patients in General Practice scholarship is vital and it is useful to engage Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) representatives at each step of your project. See our Patient pages for more information on how to do this.
Sharing scholarship and getting advice
Scholarship is a team activity and sometimes you just need to talk with someone about your ideas.
Members of the Society for Academic Primary Care working in departments of academic primary care around the UK can offer advice and support for your scholarship. Perhaps you are looking for someone you can talk through some general ideas - to find out more about what opportunities are available locally. Each academic department has an Ambassador who would be pleased to hear from you. Why not drop them a line and start a conversation? They will help you make links with people locally and nationally who can help with your ideas. Click here for a list of Ambassadors.
Perhaps you are planning or working on a specific project or idea, and really need to speak with an expert in that field to help develop your ideas further. We have a growing directory of people to help you. Click on the list here for contact details or use our GEMs pages to find the experts and the work they are doing.
You may want to find other Primary Care healthcare clinicians who are doing similar work to you, or get involved with an organisation local to you who promote scholarship in General Practice - keep an eye out for our WiseConnections page for opportunities to connect.
Sharing scholarship with other academics, front line clinicians and patients is what it is all about and means you can directly influence improvements in General Practice. Disseminating your findings in the form of journal articles might seem daunting, but there are now so many opportunities to share your ideas and outcomes, and also seek future collaborators. This journey is part of becoming a leader in General Practice scholarship.