Gynaecological teaching associates
They have been branded as hired prostitutes, lesbians, and women do-gooders, but gynaecological teaching associates provide UK medical students with experience in gynaecological examinations and are being used in an increasing number of countries. Lucy Cowdrey finds out more
Three years ago, two family planning doctors decided to take action against the inadequate teaching of gynaecological skills at Guy's, King's, and St Thomas' Medical School in London. Paula Baraitser and Sally Pickard knew about the Gynaecological Teaching Associate (GTA) system which had been operating for years in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Scandinavia, and wondered if the same structure could be applied in the United Kingdom.
GTAs allow medical students to do bimanual pelvic and speculum examinations on them while giving constructive feedback on the students' communication and practical skills. During the examination, they can guide the students about what they are doing right or wrong. They also work with the students though role play--for example, how to sensitively explain and discuss the smear test and bimanual examination.
Part of the GTAs' training is to talk about their own personal experiences of going for smear tests, and the