ScotGEM – a review of the impact of COVID-19 on Agents of Change prescribing projects in GP practice placements

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Agents of Change is a novel teaching component of ScotGEM four-year graduate entry medical programme. First year students complete a group-prescribing project based on priority clinical areas identified by their GP practice placements. The aim is to produce a useful clinical audit that promotes patient safety and quality improvement. Projects are submitted as a group report with an individual reflective component. During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been many challenges to teaching, healthcare delivery and ultimately the student experience. Here we explore whether this has had an impact on learning outcomes for the students.

We compared the results of prescribing audits over 3 years to examine if overall marks have been affected by disruption to teaching, communication and data collection during the pandemic. We then corroborated this with student reflection of this experience during 2020.

164 students have completed the prescribing projects in total over the 3 years. For the 2018 entry cohort the mean mark was 79.0% (71.0 – 86.3), for the 2019 entry 76.7% (61.9 – 88.5) and for the 2020 entry 76.6% (71.4 – 93). In terms of project delivery, no COVID-19 restrictions were in place for the 2018 entry year, the 2019 entry was severely disrupted during data collection and for the 2020 entry COVID-related adjustments were made to teaching and data collection. Student concerns highlighted in reflective essays included: online communication problems, Wi-Fi issues, and access to practices to collect data.

Despite student concerns regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their prescribing projects, the data show that this appears to not have had a detrimental effect on outcomes for the prescribing project marks compared with the initial non-pandemic year. We demonstrate that adjustments to approach have been effective at producing comparable quality prescribing projects even when face-to-face communication and data access were severely limited.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication10th National Scottish Medical Education Virtual Conference
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2021

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