Future GPs need resilience training to avoid burnout

GP trainees should receive structured courses on resilience to prepare them for the workload and pressure of general practice and to help combat burnout in the profession, leading GP educators have warned.

GP trainees: support needed to avoid burnout (Photo: JH Lancy)
GP trainees: support needed to avoid burnout (Photo: JH Lancy)

Speaking at the 2014 annual RCGP conference in Liverpool, Professor Martin Marshall, GP and professor of healthcare improvement at UCL, said the current training scheme was at risk of ‘half-training doctors’ by making them competent clinicians but ‘not able to manage the environment they're working in’.

Dr Helen Mead, GP dean at Health Education East Midlands, said it was ‘becoming increasingly understood’ that medical trainees should be given ‘structured courses on resilience’ in addition to clinical lessons.

Such courses would allow trainees to start ‘with a kernel which they can hopefully build on’, she said.

Dr Mead said work/life balance was ‘increasingly’ becoming an issue for GPs at all stages of their careers, with many beginning to suffer from burnout.

Resilience training

It was important to teach trainees how to manage this from early on, she added, but also provide training throughout a GP’s career. ‘We’re all learners, up until our final day of practice,’ she said.

The theme of resilience among GPs – and promoting it within the profession – was one that featured heavily at the conference.

Dr Mead cautioned that it was important to ensure these valuable aspects of training were not lost amidst the push for increased numbers of GP trainees.

She said: ‘One of the concerns I have is that if we increase the number of trainees in general practice, we will have difficulty sustaining some of the old methods of working such as the half-day release, which is a forum where trainees learn about the real world.

‘So I think we have to be careful that as we increase the number of trainees, that we make sure we retain things that are not so easily measured, but which are important for GPs to learn.’

Read more: full RCGP conference coverage and video

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