Keen to explore SSC opportunities with the Primary Care Unit?
This page brings together key sources of information for student doctors at Cambridge who are looking at their SSC options, with several examples of how recent projects have been disseminated (scroll down to see Examples).
This profile of Dr Gwilym Thomas (graduated 2015 and pictured above) shows how academic primary care can fit in with your medical training.
Please contact Frances Cater if you have specific queries about selecting your SSC project in general practice or primary care research on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doing your SSC in the Primary Care Unit, or in a General Practice, opens up a wide range of challenging opportunities and a wealth of experience for you. Possibilities range from research to underpin early diagnosis of cancer in primary care to tackling health inequalities through pro-active work with traveller communities. You will be working with some of our most dynamic GP teachers and primary care researchers, possibly leading to a first author publication”.
– Dr John Benson, Senior Lecturer in General Practice, Director of GPEG, September 2016
Link to MedEd pages on SSCs, with list of supervisors and the handbook
Information for GP Tutors
This presentation for GP Tutors who would like to offer SSCs was given by Dr Kinnary Martin in November 2016
We offer Cambridge medical students the opportunity to use the Clinical Practice Research Database (CPRD) as you conduct your SSC. CPRD is an anonymised database of the primary care records of five million current UK patients. In the academic year 2015/2016 we have had 3 students complete SSCs within the core CPRD team. Their projects have included work on defining chronic kidney disease, diabetes and atrial fibrillation and investigating the quality of the coded data within CPRD. About CPRD@Cambridge
Does my project require ethical approval?
If you are supervised by one of our researchers in the Primary Care Unit, you will be guided through the process of ethical approval, should this be necessary. If your project is supervised by a GP in practice, you are almost certainly undertaking an audit or service evaluation and in most cases, these projects do not require ethical approval. For outline guidance, check this decision tool: http://www.hra-decisiontools.org.uk/research/ (you can save the printout) and for more information see this leaflet: http://www.hra-decisiontools.org.uk/research/docs/DefiningResearchTable_Oct2017-1.pdf
If you require advice or guidance about ethical approval after reading this information, please contact GPEG via this email address: email@example.com.
Financial support to help students present at conferences
We are keen to support student doctors to disseminate findings from their projects via first author publications and/or by presenting findings at conferences. Note that even if your project is not classed as ‘research’ ie does not require ethical approval because it’s a service evaluation/audit, you can still submit your abstract for consideration to many conferences, including those organised by the Society for Academic Primary Care and the Royal College of General Practitioners.
If you are planning to submit an abstract for presentation at a conference, the following information about financial support may be useful.
We suggest that students should first apply to their supervisor or research group for advice on funding support to enable them to present papers or posters about their research at conferences. The Clinical School may also help with a contribution towards travel costs for this purpose. See guidance on this and on requesting absence for academic reasons on the University’s pages for students here.
If your primary supervisor is a GP in one of our GPEG teaching practices, or your SSC is supervised by a researcher in the Primary Care Unit, you can apply to GPEG for limited financial support of up to £150 per student per annum. To apply, please send a short email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- confirm that you are directly supervised at the Primary Care Unit or by a GP in a GPEG teaching practice as your lead/main supervisor for the relevant project, naming the GP and the practice
- confirm that your abstract on a GP relevant topic has been accepted for presentation at a conference, and attach your abstract
- provide the name and date of the conference
- confirm that you have also applied to the Clinical School for travel support if applicable
- suggest the amount you’ll need, up to a maximum of £150, which could contribute towards conference fees/accommodation/travel. If we’re able to help, we’ll ask for receipts when you send us your claim for these expenses.
- confirm that you’ll formally request absence for attendance at the conference, following advice from the Clinical School here
This blog by Sophie Jackman about attending her first major academic conference may make interesting reading.
About recent SSC projects
Example 1. For her SSC project, Kathryn Dixon audited GP records to examine vaccine uptake in a traveller community, with Dr Tanya Blumenfeld, resulting in publication in the Journal of Public Health and a University press statement
Dixon, KC, Mullis, R, and Blumenfeld, T. Vaccine uptake in the Irish Travelling community: An audit of general practice records. Journal of Public Health; 19 Sept 206; DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdw088.
Example 2. For his SSC project, Gwilym Thomas looked at health-related quality of life and the patient experience of informal carers
Gwilym Thomas used data from the English General Practice Patient Survey (2012), including 195,364 people who self-identified as carers. In October 2016, the ensuing paper in BMC Family Practice was awarded RCGP category Research Paper of the Year 2016.
Thomas, GP, Saunders, CL, Roland, MO and Paddison CA. Informal carers’ health-related quality of life and patient experience in primary care: evidence from 195,364 carers in England responding to a national survey. BMC Family Practice; 15 May 2015; DOI: 10.1186/s12875-015-0277-y
A message from Professor Jonathan Mant, head of the Primary Care Unit
Dear Cambridge Medical Students,
I would like to make you aware of the possibilities of doing a Student Selected Component in the Primary Care Unit at the University of Cambridge.
We aim to improve the health of the population through research conducted at three levels: clinical care in general practice, the organisation and delivery of healthcare, and improving health through changes to the wider environment. We are a multi-disciplinary unit, with expertise in general practice, health services research, behavioural science, qualitative research methods, statistics and health economics.
A student selected component can be flexibly designed to meet the needs of the individual student. Typically, we would aim to expose the student to primary care research through perhaps performing a literature review, or an analysis of existing data. Over the period of the SSC, we would encourage you to attend research meetings, seminars and journal clubs. We would intend that, by the end of the SSC, you had gained some insight into the role of primary care research and how it is carried out.
We would be very pleased to host you: if you are interested in doing an SSC with us, please look at the list of available slots, or contact Frances Cater on email@example.com, and she will let you know what placements are on offer. You can find us here at Cambridge Institute of Public Health (and also at Strangeways Research Laboratory) – we are just across the way from the Clinical School.
Professor of Primary Care
Head of Primary Care Unit
13th August 2016
Page updated November 2016. Lucy Lloyd