We wholeheartedly welcome you to the Family Medicine block, a six week rotation, starting with lectures at the main campus―compulsory― followed by four weeks spent at a clinical preceptor site and a final week at campus. The aim of the block is to expose you to the practice of family medicine and primary care in the setting of a district or rural site.
In this rotation, you will learn different models of consultation, communication, principles of chronic care and continuity of care, Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI), adolescent health, family health, geriatric care, palliative care, and ethics in the context of primary care.
You will notice that this block will differ from others that you have already taken. The patients you will see will be those who may not have seen a health care worker before ―i.e., they are undifferentiated. They may have no diagnosis or may be presenting with new symptoms, giving you an opportunity to make first impressions. Each of the patients you will see should be considered as an integrated whole, and all of his/her problems will have to be attended to within the context of his/her family and community.
Despite the presence of family medicine practitioners you will have to be self-directed with the bulk of your learning a result of the growth and development that comes from managing and reflecting on your patients. Take every patient encounter as a learning experience.
You will diagnose and manage patients yourself, and make decisions about them under supervision of your preceptor. Remember: ASK FOR HELP whenever you need it.
We hope that working in rural areas will be an important learning experience for you. However, you also need to make a contribution to the sites where you are working, which may not have as many resources. Become an asset to the site: work hard and willingly offer support.
Make sure you have the latest MSTG book (2009), Paediatric Handbook for Malawi (Philips, 2011), The Clinical Book (Zijlstra, 2012), the IMCI guidelines and the Handbook of Family Medicine (from the Library) with you. At the preceptor sites, there are also copies of reference books and textbooks of family medicine and general practice as well as clinical examination.
In the last week, you will be back at the campus where you will have evaluations, presentations, and end-of-block examinations.
We wish you the best of luck in this rewarding rotation.
ENJOY YOUR TIME WITH US!
Dr J Parks