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GENA820 Nature of Medical Practice

The philosophical basis of medical practice; doctors and their relationship in the delivery of medical care. Reflective practice and the incorporation of theory into day-to-day medical work.

GENA 820 explores the role of doctors and their therapeutic relationships in the delivery of medical care. Confidential case discussion is based on participants’ clinical experiences, reflective practice and the translation of biomedical theory to day-to-day medical work.

GENA 820 provides a systematic review of the foundational concepts of science as applied to medical practice, critiquing the academic and philosophic underpinning of modern medicine.

There are eight modules of study and three face-to-face weekend 'residentials' over the course of the year. Topics include the socio-culture of modern medicine, the doctor-patient relationship, consultation studies, the doctor as a person, the world of the patient and the place of general practice in health care delivery. It is an exciting and rewarding year of study with colleagues. Residentials may be held online depending on pandemic restrictions.

Paper title Nature of Medical Practice
Paper code GENA820
Subject General Practice
EFTS 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,018.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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GENX 820
Limited to
Suitable for medical qualifications only.
Teaching staff

Dr Hamish Wilson

Paper Structure

This paper comprises eight learning modules:

  • Literature and self
  • The world of the patient
  • The history and culture of modern medicine
  • The doctor-patient relationship and reflective practice
  • Challenges in clinical relationships
  • The place of general practice in primary health care
  • The doctor as a person and self-care
  • Wisdom in modern practice
Teaching Arrangements

This is a distance taught paper with three residential during the course of the year, and several audioconferences.


Required: Cunningham W and Wilson H. Being a doctor: understanding medical practice. 2013. Otago University Press; Dunedin

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will have

  • A renewed sense of direction and purpose in medicine
  • Better understanding of the strengths and limitations of modern clinical method, allowing more flexibility in day to day clinical practice
  • Increased skill in working with 'difficult' patients resulting in fewer 'heart-sink' moments
  • Increased ability to review and reflect on a wide range of challenges within clinical practice
  • An improved ability to contribute critically to medico-political discussions
  • Better understanding of one's own career choices
  • A greater sense of collegiality with others

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system