Frequently Asked Questions for Patients
What does PTA stand for?
PTA stands for Patient Teaching Associate – patient volunteers who work with our medical educators as ‘associate teachers’ in the training of future doctors.
When and where is the PTA program held?
It is held every Friday afternoon from 1.15pm to 4pm during the semester in the Clinical Consultation Rooms, Eastern Health Clinical School, level 1 (ground floor), 5 Arnold St, Box Hill, opposite the new Box Hill Hospital.
How do I get there?
If you require assistance with transport and live within a 20km radius of Box Hill then we can provide taxi vouchers. Free parking is provided in Spring St.
Am I suitable?
If you have a personal story to tell, you are living with a chronic illness and have a genuine interest in helping to educate the doctors of the future, then you are suitable. You do not need to be an Eastern Health patient.
What happens in PTA sessions?
The session is based on a consultation that you might expect if you were meeting a new doctor at your GP clinic for the first time. It is not assumed that you have attended with a particular problem needing attention, more that the student doctors want to get an overall picture of your health situation at the time.
Three students will share the role of the doctor – one will start the session by asking about your health history and your main current health concerns. This student may ask you about the medications you are currently taking and when certain events happened. That student will then handover to another student who will conduct a physical examination related to your main health problems (e.g., listen to your chest, take your blood pressure). The third student will then lead a discussion about management of your health problems.
At the end of the session there is an opportunity for everyone (PTA, tutor and fellow students) to give the students some verbal feedback on their performance. Once the session is finished, the patient and tutor will be asked to provide written feedback to the students.
What about confidentiality?
Our students and staff are committed to maintaining your privacy. Your records and information arising in the session are treated confidentially and only used for the purpose of the teaching session.
What am I consenting to?
We require that you sign a consent form stating that you are aware how the program is run and agree to participate in discussion of your health and to undergo a relevant non-intimate physical examination. The consent agreement makes it clear that our student and supervising doctors do not offer medical treatment.
What do PTAs do?
The students are expected to lead the session so they will ask the questions for you to answer based on your real situation. You do not need to act, invent anything or tell the whole story in one go – just answer their questions. You don’t need to lead them on too much; they need to learn how to ask the right questions. If you ever get asked a question you do not wish to answer, just say so and they will move on. You will be asked permission to perform a non-intimate physical exam and depending on your chronic condition you may have your blood pressure taken, your chest listened to, eyes and ears checked or your abdomen and limbs assessed.
Will I need to talk about the medication I am taking?
Yes, the students will ask you about the medications you care currently taking. If you have trouble remembering all your medications then it may be helpful to write them down.
What sort of feedback do I give?
Most of your feedback to students will be about how and what they said and how it made you feel during the session. Don’t be shy about saying what you think went well and what didn’t go so well from your point of view as the patient. Our students really value your honest feedback; it is the way they learn ways to improve.
Do the feedback comments in PTA contribute towards the students’ final marks?
No, all feedback provided in PTA is formative (i.e., it does not contribute to the students’ final marks).
How many students do I see each visit?
There will be three students in each consultation accompanied by a qualified doctor (clinical tutor). Two consultations will be held on one Friday afternoon (i.e., you will see a maximum of six students on a Friday).
How long does the session go for?
We ask volunteers to attend between 1:15pm and 4:00pm. During this time patients see two groups of students with a break for afternoon tea.
How many PTAs are needed on a day?
Four PTAs are required each Friday afternoon.
How often do you need to volunteer?
It is up to you, but no more than three times a semester. Ideally we would like our students not to see the same patient twice.
What do I need to wear?
Wear something comfortable and with a top layer that is easy to remove to allow physical examination.
Can I get a second opinion from the students about my condition?
No, our students and clinical tutors do not offer you medical advice or treatment.
How do I get involved?
If you are interested in participating or obtaining further information then please contact the PTA program coordinator.P: (03) 9091 8821; E:firstname.lastname@example.org