Dr Anna Olsson-Brown, HEE Clinical Advisor, Consultant in Medical Oncology and educator explains:
High uptake of vaccinations, a return to office working and tests for vaccinated people no longer needed for entry to the UK all point, albeit hesitantly, to the potential return of some semblance of normality - but for our doctors in training it’s not quite that straight forward.
NHS services are still seeing the huge impact of Covid-19 on top of winter pressures. As providers of patient care, doctors in training are still balancing these pressures on top of supporting service recovery while all the time trying to get their training and careers back on track. It is for this reason that trainee and trainer relationships are paramount and interactions with educators crucial.
A lot has been done nationally to support those trainees that have missed out on competencies, such as protecting training time for those whose training progression has been affected, limitation of redeployment and maintenance of training utilising digital platforms. However the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on training should not be underestimated. Even those trainees who have not received ARCP outcomes 10.1/10.2 because they have met their training requirements have had their training affected and have not received the holistic training opportunities they would have, had it not been for the Covid-19 pandemic.
What we need to do as educators is understand each individual trainee’s experience - whether they've met the criteria of their portfolios or not. They may have had experience in terms of the numbers, but personal growth is vitally important for progression as well. As an educator myself, I know how difficult it can be to have the headspace to do that.
The priority for the 1-2-1s with trainees is to identify the gaps, find out what happened. Even with those individuals that haven't got big gaps on paper, it's important to have those same conversations, they may have ticked all the boxes, but could be struggling with confidence because they haven’t treated certain types of patients for example. Assessment at ARCP is of crucial importance but the welfare and psychological wellbeing of our trainees is equally as important.
Ask trainees - where are your personal gaps? What is it that you haven't been able to do? What is it you feel you haven't had enough of? Are there bits that you feel that we need to somehow tailor to you so that you can get that experience?
Redeployment numbers are relatively low now but relocation within hospitals and within teams is much higher. There are opportunities here to be more flexible and develop more bespoke timetables to plug the gaps and ensure everyone gets equal amounts of experience. In my trust, we have created a flexible timetable where we move all our trainees around, but we are still maintaining as much training as possible. We’re being more flexible to support training and in return trainees are being more flexible with our ever-changing service need.
Now more than ever, we need to work together.
1-2-1s are just that, a time to reflect, to be honest and open and to identify where the needs are – both in terms of curriculum achievements and personal gaps. Go to these interactions prepared, be ready to talk and be ready to bring some ideas. Educators – think about the individual need but how a group approach to timetabling for example could work. Trainees – be prepared with ideas for your wellbeing – coaching, mentoring for example. By working together, being flexible and supportive individuals’ training and wellbeing can get back on track. Make sure you get the most out of the interactions and work through opportunities together.