Community Tutors and Medicine in Society


What is Medicine in Society?

The Medicine in Society module runs in the first and second year of the five-year undergraduate medical degree and is taken by all students. Traditionally medical students had their first patient contact in the third year of their studies, and one of the aims of this module is to ensure students have early patient contact. Other aims include enabling students to begin to understand patients and how they are affected by their illness; for them to appreciate how cultural diversity and social and economic factors impact on patients illness experience and to introduce students to the wider primary health care team, and to the social, voluntary and lay support networks that contribute to the care and support of individuals in the community.


How does it work?

In their first year of their studies students are allocated in groups of 6-8 to a GP tutor in a General Practice within Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest and the occasional outer London practice.  The students spend 12 days through the year out on placement and all of the placement days are on Thursdays. The teaching is shared between the GP and a community tutor in a co-tutoring partnership.  


What does a community Tutor do?

A community tutor works with a GP tutor to deliver the course and help with assessment of the students.  Most of the teaching and course activities take place at the general practice, but community tutors can also meet students at their own place of work or arrange and accompany students on visits to local organisations. We expect you to be involved on at least eight of the days through the year; we would particularly like the community tutors to be present for at least some of the first day to meet and help orientate the students and on the last day when the students are assessed.  We expect a minimum of 40 hours direct contact with students, or giving feedback on their work.

Otherwise the distribution of the work is largely left to the GP and the Community tutor to share between themselves.  It is expected that co-tutors will have at least one meeting before the students go out on placement to plan the teaching for the year. They will then meet regularly to provide formative and summative feedback to the students.

Your students will submit brief reflections after each placement day and you will be expected to provide regular formative feedback via our virtual learning environment QM+ (training will be provided).


What is expected of you?

We expect that a community tutor will be working or have worked with a social care or health care (conventional or alternative) organisation, or with a voluntary agency providing support or advice for people in need.  The main requirement is that you can help to provide first year students, some of whom may have very little experience of even talking to older people or young children, with a broader perspective on health and social care and its provision in the local area.

It is important to be aware of equal opportunities.  Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds, and lesson planning should take this into account. It is expected that language used will be appropriate and non-discriminatory.


What does the course involve?

The course consists of 12 themed days. Themes include: The Older Patient, Overweight in the Community, Smoking and Breathing, Coping with Stigma, Mother and Baby.  A list of the learning objectives for each day and some suggested activities to achieve these objectives are provided in the tutor guide.  Detailed guidance on student assessment is also provided. It is recognised that a community tutor is unlikely to have expertise in all of the areas the students cover during the year and it is expected that you would have more involvement on days on which you feel you have more to contribute.

What backgrounds do community Tutors have?

Community tutors are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds, some work or have worked as social workers, others work as part of the primary health care team and may be practice nurses, health visitors, psychologists, counsellors, some work with local voluntary agencies working with older people, people with drug and alcohol problems, or people with mental health problems e.g. Age Concern, Addaction, Neighbours in Poplar.

What do you gain from doing it?

As a tutor you or your organisation (if you are being released from paid employment to work as a co-tutor) will be paid for your involvement with the students over the course of the year. Most tutors say that they are doing it because they enjoy it; they take pleasure in working with enthusiastic students, and because they have built up a good relationship with their GP co-tutor; in some cases, over a number of years of working together.


How do I know if I am doing things right?

All tutors are invited to training days, held annually.  Community tutors are expected to attend for updates and to swap ideas and hear from more experienced tutors. We do review tutor's teaching, and at some point throughout the year, you should expect a member of the team to review your work and make recommendations (if necessary).


How do I find out more?

If you are interested in working as a community tutor please contact Maria Hayfron-Benjamin, Module Convenor for Medicine in Society on 0207 882 2505 or via E-mail at


Last modified: Wednesday, 8 August 2018, 10:11 AM