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Neurologists frequently teach general practitioners (GPs) and write articles for GP journals. Yet reports on UK neurological care often comment on GPs’ delay in diagnosis and lack of understanding of neurological conditions.1 To address this conundrum, I discuss with Dr Jim Morison—a colleague in GP education—how we might improve GP education in neurology.
PM: What can neurologists do to help GPs to manage neurological conditions and address the communication gap between specialists and generalists?
JM: Patients undoubtedly benefit if their GP has a better understanding of their neurological symptoms and illnesses. However, the traditional large lecture (where pearls are cast by haughty specialists to an audience of generalists salivating with anticipation) may not be the best way to achieve this. Getting an educational message across well to GPs requires more thought and planning….
PM: So what might be better?
JM: Meetings of small groups of local doctors discussing local experiences with local specialists make the learning relevant to the local needs of the doctors and of the service—and more likely produces genuine and sustained behaviour change.
PM: Neurologists could then talk about what they do in 2013 (rather than when the GP was at medical school), what they want and do not want to be referred, and what might be achieved from an appointment.
JM; Remember that education is not a one way process, and neurologists could also learn from experienced GPs—how, for example, to manage medically unexplained symptoms or to judge the right time to investigate. They could also learn how doctors in primary care can manage neurological symptoms and illness.
PM: It has been said that GPs may not want to learn about neurology: rising referral and admission rates1 hint that there is already some handover of neurology—from primary to secondary care.
JM: For GPs, the …
Contributors PM wrote a lot of it and JM contributed as in the text.
Competing interests JM is a GP, GP trainer and Programme Director of a GP training scheme.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed. This paper was reviewed by Greg Rogers, Kent, UK, and Jeremy Gittins, London, UK.