Exciting times lie ahead for general practice. As a new GP, either salaried, locum or partner, some of us can find the transition from training to real life as an independent GP challenging.
The peer support in particular, which most of us enjoyed as a trainee, is often the thing we miss the most.
The RCGP has developed a new initiative called First5, which was conceived by the associates in training (AiT) committee in 2009 and launched by RCGP chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada and Dr Clare Taylor, First5 clinical lead, at the RCGP national conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, in 2010.
It aims to support GPs in the first five years post MRCGP through to revalidation and comprises five pillars, which you can read about on its website (www.rcgp.org.uk/first5).
The second pillar is around developing networks to provide peer support. Most RCGP faculties in the UK have engaged with the First5 concept and I want to tell you what we are doing in the north of England faculty to support the initiative.
Small groups can be an excellent way to acquire peer support and continue professional development. My tips for doing this are:
- Aim to set up a small group (my first First5 group contained six GP friends).
- Try to meet monthly.
- Set the agenda for each meeting.
- Ensure to log the content of the meetings for appraisal.
This is a great opportunity to discuss any aspects of general practice, learn from peers and explore the different ways in which we all practice.
The First5 team has written a more comprehensive Guide to First5 CPD groups, which includes useful templates for planning and recording educational activity, and which can be downloaded from its website.
In the north of England faculty, we have also hosted several regional group meetings to provide support for First5 GPs.
The meetings were chaired by the faculty lead and we have encouraged First5 members to contribute ideas to allow the First5 concept to evolve locally.
The aim is to encourage regional GPs, GPSIs and consultants to network via:
- Social events.
- Educational meetings on non-clinical matters, such as formation of clinical commissioning groups, commissioning, appraisal and revalidation. We have taken care to avoid overlap with AiT educational events.
- Informal 'round robins' with both GPs and hospital consultants present.
It is important to generate a list of local hospital consultants willing to take part in these events. Consultants will often be keen to take part in education for GPs.
In Newcastle, we recently had our first networking event. This was entitled 'speed networking' and was attended by around 30 GPs.
Invites were sent to newly qualified GPs, AiTs and consultants. The speed networking concept mimicked speed dating. This was successful and a second event took place in July.
This event was well attended by 34 GPs, including GPSIs, a consultant geriatrician, a former medical director of the Middlesbrough PCT and the dean of the medical school. Future speed networking events will provide a platform for young GPs to get to know who's who in their local area.
Useful information is available at www.rcgp.org.uk/first5. This provides useful templates for group meetings, some background to First5 and useful links to e-learning, recognised for appraisal.
- Dr Singh is a GP in Northumberland.
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