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GENA820 Nature of Medical Practice

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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.

This paper explores the role of doctors and their therapeutic relationships in the delivery of medical care. It is based on 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 medical practice; it aims to examine the academic and philosophic underpinning of modern medicine.

There are three compulsory face-to-face weekend 'residentials' over the course of the year and eight modules of study. Topics include the history and culture of modern medicine, the doctor-patient relationship, consultation studies, the self of the doctor, 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.

Paper title Nature of Medical Practice
Paper code GENA820
Subject General Practice
EFTS 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period Full Year (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,938.00
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
Dr Struan Clark

Paper Structure
This paper comprises eight learning modules:
  • Literature and self
  • The place of general practice in primary health care
  • The world of the patient
  • The history and culture of modern medicine
  • The doctor-patient relationship
  • Consultation studies
  • The self of the doctor
  • Wisdom in practice
Teaching Arrangements

This paper is distance taught. There are three compulsory residentials during the year and videoconferences for each module.


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 purpose in medicine
  • Greater comprehension of the strengths and limitations of modern clinical method
  • Increased skill in working with 'difficult' patients resulting in fewer 'heart-sink' moments
  • An improved ability to contribute critically to medico-political discussions
  • Better understanding of one's own career choices
  • A great sense of collegiality with others

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Full Year

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