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Getting the most out of your educational supervisor

The educational supervisor is a new role, created to ensure your educational needs are met under the nMRCGP. Dr Mandy Fry explains what to expect from them.

The educational supervisor is a new role, created to ensure your educational needs are met under the nMRCGP. Dr Mandy Fry explains what to expect from them.

The role of educational supervisor will vary between deaneries and even between schemes, depending on their size. However there are certain key principles and expectations that should be fulfilled by your educational supervisor.

For starters, the RCGP definition of the role is ‘clinical educator responsible for making sure the learner receives appropriate training and experience, and monitoring their progress through the full three year training programme.'

The pool of educational supervisors has been drawn from GP trainers and vocational training scheme course organisers and programme directors. So they are all individuals who will have significant clinical experience in general practice and a good understanding of the educational needs of individuals preparing for a similar career.

The difference between clinical and educational supervisors

The idea is that a single individual will fufil the educational supervisor role for the entire duration of your training, although in some areas your educational supervisor may change when you enter your ST3 year.

This means that, whilst your clinical supervisor will change every few months, there will be one individual who gets to know you as an indivudal learner. They can therefore help to ensure that your training programme is truly integrated, and suited to your needs, rather than just a sequential ad hoc selection of potentially relevant hospital posts. In your ST3 year your GP trainer may well fulfil the dual role of both clinical and educational supervisor.

Key roles

The role of educational supervior is a pivotal one with regard to nMRCGP as each GP specialty trainee will have a nominated educational supervisor who will have access to their e-portfolio. A key part of this role is undertaking the educational reviews which should occur a minimum of every six months, or at the end of each hospital post if this is more often. These reviews may involve the clinical supervisor but will certainly incorporate the clinical supervisor's report.

To make the most of your educational review you will need to be using your e-portfolio on a regular basis and matching your log entries against the 12 competency areas of the GP curriculum. If you share your log entries with your educational supervisor they can help ensure you are doing this appropriately. They will also have started to develop a sense of your preferred learning styles and whether there are obvious areas of educational need developing.

This will inform the discussion between you and help you focus on particular areas of interest or educational need for the next stage of your training. It will also ensure that you are on track with the formal assessments that form a key part of WPBA.

For those of you undertaking shortened schemes, having changed career direction, these reviews will be of particular significance as they will give you the opportunity to explore any educational needs that you might have as a consequence of less breadth of hospital experience.

Added benefits

Your educational review may also have a potential benefit for future GP specialist trainees as it may bring to light educational opportunities for indivduals who will rotate into the post in future.

This is particularly true at present as the national expansion of vocational training schemes means that many schemes are incorporating new posts and these come with a whole new set of both issues and opportunities. Programme Directors may not yet be familiar with these just yet.

Your educational review will be an excellent opportunity for these to be explored for the benefit of your colleagues and in turn your colleagues may be pioneering the same for posts that you may well rotate into in future.

Shaping feedback

The majority of your assessments carried out during the hospital component of your training will be undertaken by your clinical supervisor, or members of their team. You may however still choose to discuss your progress with the assessments with your educational supervisor. The one assessment that you must discuss with your educational supervisor is the MSF (multi-source feedback) as this will be returned to them initially and so will not directly feed into your e-portfolio until they have reviewed it. This is designed to maximise the formative nature of such feedback and to enable individuals filling in the MSF to have confidence that it will be used constructively to aid your professional development.

Building bridges

It is hoped that you will develop a constructive professional relationship with your educational supervisor so that you will find them both accessible and approachable. It is worth putting in some initial effort in arranging to meet them and then setting up a system of email or phone contact that works for you both. This will be rewarded with a good source of both educational and pastoral support, and they will be able to liaise closely with the the Programme Directors as necessary.

If however you find that this is not the case then it is worth discussing it early on with your course organiser or programme director. Similarly if it works well it is also worth mentioning as this is a new, expanding role and they will be keen to develop models of good practice.

Dr Mandy Fry is GP VTS course organiser in Oxford and senior lecturer in primary care at Oxford Brookes University. She also works part time as a GP retainer in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

what does the educational supervisor do?

Plays a key role in the WPBA component of nMRCGP

Has access to your e-portfolio

Is a clinical educator familiar with the needs of general practice

Helps ensure you get appropriate training and experince in an integrated way throughout your training

Works closely with the Programme Directors or Course Organisers

Is responsible for your regular educational reviews

Receives your multi-source feedback before you do

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