GP training: Starting as a GP trainee

GP trainer Dr Pipin Singh offers some top tips to help new trainees make the most of the first few months of GP training.

Get to know your clinical and educational supervisors (Photo: iStock.com)
Get to know your clinical and educational supervisors (Photo: iStock.com)

Congratulations, you have made it through the GP national recruitment assessment centre. You are officially a GP registrar. This will be new territory for the majority of GP registrars. Below is some advice on what to expect and tips for surviving the first few months of GP training.

What to expect?

Each GP training scheme will vary on whether you start in a hospital post or a GP post. Most programmes are three years and will combine a mixture of hospital posts, GP posts, integrated training posts, CCG posts (mixed GP/ hospital) and academic posts.

Clinical and educational supervision

Whether starting in general practice or hospital, get to know your clinical supervisor and educational supervisor from an early stage. Your clinical supervisor (CS) will be responsible for overseeing your professional development during the six-month post and your educational supervisor (ES) will be responsible for overseeing your development throughout your training. You are likely to get to know both very well, and your ES more so.

Arrange to meet your CS within the first few weeks of your placement to discuss what your roles and responsibilities will be during the placement. Use this protected time to set your educational agenda (i.e what you would like to get out of your placement).

Many hospital posts will be used to GP trainees in post but some may not, so think about how that post may apply to general practice and what skills may be useful to gain that can be transferred back into primary care. This may include more outpatient clinic work to experience GP referrals from a secondary care perspective.

You will need to meet your ES within the first few weeks to informally get to know each other and discuss the formalities around training. This discussion will likely centre around the eportfolio, and your ES can discuss what they expect from you with regards to your reflective learning log entries and useful resources to support a ‘good entry’.

They may also discuss work-placed based assessments (WPBAs) and how often you are likely to meet over your training. This is a useful time for you to discuss any concerns, queries you may have around any aspect of GP training. Your ES is likely to be a good source of support for you throughout training.

e-portfolio

The e-portfoilio often provides registrars with a lot of anxiety, however it is best to think of this as a normal part of your daily routine. You should also consider this as important as the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) and Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA). The RCGP is very clear that this is one of the three assessments that will be examined during training so it is important not to neglect this.

Familiarise yourself with each section of the e-portfolio early on and the nomenclature around this e.g COT, CBD, WPBA, CEPS etc. Understand what is meant by terms such as curriculum coverage and professional competencies. Some of these terms will be new to many trainees and early familiarisation will make for a smooth transition into GP training. The RCGP information on workplace-based assessment can help with this.

Reflective learning log entries form a crucial part of the portfolio. Ensure you are happy with what is expected of you with respect to these after your initial meeting with your ES.

During your placements, use any opportunity available to you to complete the mandatory assessments. These can be more difficult to complete in hospital posts so be mindful of this and if even a slim opportunity arises to complete one i.e informal discussion of a case with a senior colleague, which you feel may demonstrate some competencies, ask yourself can I complete an assessment here? If unable to at that time, log the case and come back to it to do at a later date.

Always be on the alert to obtaining observed examinations, particularly the more difficult intimate examinations e.g male genital, female genital, breast examinations. These can be difficult for trainees to get observed throughout their training so be proactive in trying to get these completed from an early stage.

Integration with other GP registrars

Most schemes will have either weekly or monthly GP teaching depending on what sort of post you are doing. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet other GP registrars and develop relationships that are likely to be long term.

These colleagues are likely to form a great support network for you and it allows you to discuss cases/new guidelines and anything else that may be pertinent to you at that time. This will also allow you to start to get an understanding of what life is like post training and what options maybe available to you.

Social media and resources

Familiarise yourself with any groups outside of the scheme on Facebook or Instagram, for example the North East has the RCGP First5 North East group that holds regular educational events and socials and invites and updates are often posted on Facebook.

Discuss useful resources with your CS/ES and other registrars.

Above all remember to enjoy your training and the exciting rewards that await you at the end of the programme.

  • Dr Pipin Singh is a GP trainer in Northumberland

Resources for GP trainees

GPonline has a dedicated section for trainees with practical advice and useful information here.

Some useful articles for new trainees include:

Other useful resources

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