Innovative programme for GP trainees helps ease transition to independent practice

A Nottinghamshire programme aimed at supporting GP registrars throughout their training and preparing them for independent practice has helped encourage them to remain in the area after they qualify.

Dr Rebecca Chellaswamy

The Trainee Transition Programme was set up in 2019 by the Nottinghmashire General Practice Phoenix Programme, which is linked to Nottinghamshire LMC. The programme works with groups of around 20 GP trainees who are in ST1, ST2 and ST3.

Dr Rebecca Chellaswamy, training programme director of the Nottingham GP Speciality Training Programme, told the RCGP annual conference in Liverpool that the programme was developed after feedback from GP trainees on their priorities after completing training.

'What we found when we asked our ST3 cohort was that they wanted to be able to continue their career development, they wanted help finding the right job - not just a job, but the right job - and they also wanted to have ongoing mentorship,' she said.

'A lot of trainees were quite concerned that they would no longer have the support of their educational supervisor and they wanted to continue to have some of that support.'

Support for GP trainees

In résponse to the survey the Pheonix Programme set up the Trainee Transition Programme and a programme for newly-qualified GPs that has evolved to become the area's fellowship programme.

The trainee programme took over local time-protected learning sessions that were already in place for GP trainees. Two types of sessions were provided - teaching sessions delivered by a tutor and self-directed education sessions run by the trainees themselves with support from the tutor.

'The tutor sessions are generally covering non-clinical topics that are designed to complement the teaching that the trainees are already getting in the GP training central teaching,' said Dr Chellaswamy, who was a tutor on the programme until earlier this year.

'There is also an element of pastoral support and the idea is that the transition from trainee to newly-qualified GP is eased. We can also introduce to them the [local] opportunities that they will have the chance to take advantage of once they CCT.'

All of the tutors taking part in the scheme were in the first five years post-qualification, so had a good understanding of the issues the trainees faced.

Networking and mentoring

Dr Chellaswamy said many of the topics covered in the sessions were often those it was more difficult for GP trainees to evidence for their e-portfolios, such as dealing with uncertainty and time management.

She said that the benefits of the programme were networking for participants, informal mentoring by the GP tutors and the opportunity for trainees to develop teaching skills. It also encouraged trainees to focus on their future and think about their career in the longer term, rather than just being focused on the immediate pressures of training.

Research with those trainees who had gone through the programme found that all but one participant said that they felt the scheme had helped prepare them for life after training. Meanwhile, all of the participants said they believed the sessions, along with knowledge of the support providede by the Phoenix Programme, would influence their decision to remain in Nottinghamshire.

After the trainees qualify, they then move onto the Phoenix Programme's New to Practice GP Fellowship scheme, where they continue to receive additional support as they begin independent practice, including up to one session a week protected self-development time.

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