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Career Taster - Programme director

Dr Ruth Chapman suggests another job option for salaried GPs – this week, a teaching role that used to be called course organiser

Dr Ruth Chapman suggests another job option for salaried GPs – this week, a teaching role that used to be called course organiser

Why it's on my job menu I have an interest in teaching and wondered how to take it further. The idea of standing in front of 20-30 intelligent young GP trainees and trying to teach them something useful seems exciting/terrifying. It certainly seems a good incentive to keep your knowledge base up to date.

Skills/traits needed Empathy with young doctors – an important and particularly rewarding part of the job involves providing pastoral care and mentoring. Confidence in addressing large groups is useful as are facilitation skills for small group work. One colleague told me that ‘a degree of creativity (when planning teaching sessions) is also desirable'. Good organisational skills are required, as a large part of the job involves liaising with hospital consultants and arranging GP trainee attachments. The nMRCGP and e-portfolio are recent introductions that you would need to become familiar with.

Necessary training Different deaneries have different requirements for candidates. It is not necessary to be a Trainer. A good working knowledge of teaching theory is essential. MRCGP is mandatory, and the London deanery expect you to have completed (or be willing to undertake immediately) the ‘Postgraduate Certificate for Teachers in Primary Care'. This course (also called ‘Teaching the Teachers') lasts a year and costs £950, or £475 if you work within the London deanery area. It also counts as 60 credits towards a modular Masters degree (180 credits are required in total). Your local deanery should give you information on local requirements for becoming a programme director.

Avoid if… you suffer performance anxiety in front of large groups. However each VTS usually has several programme directors to share the workload and you may be able to take on more of the organisational side of the job if you are less keen on the teaching.

Pay Rate One programme director told me that she does the job ‘for the love of it' rather than the money. Most programme directors work 2 sessions a week, for which the starting salary is about £15,000 per annum.

Job satisfaction rating: 4/5. Many people find teaching a real thrill. For some, programme directing leads on to other deanery jobs.

Find out more:

From your regional deanery

Dr Ruth Chapman works as a locum and is on the flexible careers scheme

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