GP supervision: Keeping teaching fresh and inspired

"Teaching a junior GP can be incredibly uplifting. They are normally so keen to learn and improve that it is a joy to teach them."

BY DR LAURA CARIJA, GP Supervisor since 2003.

Teaching a junior GP can be incredibly uplifting. They are normally so keen to learn and improve that it is a joy to teach them.

The challenge is one of being able to mould a doctor in training into a really, really good GP! We start with a fresh, young (usually) mind that has so much to learn. We are not responsible for the all the actual learning (that is their responsibility), but we can help them to organise their knowledge to enable them to apply it better to their patients.

As far as we are concerned, we need to ensure that our own knowledge is reasonably up to date. But your new doctor will have knowledge that we do not have – such as current algorithms in use in the hospitals. So we can, and do, learn from them – it is a two way street.

We all know that there are times when the constant attention of our patients can be a bit of a drag. But then comes the registrar, and suddenly we see general practice through a different lens, as the focus is different. This is one way that teaching helps to keep general practice alive for us.

It is great to be able to discuss cases that represent a particular problem from our knowledge of our past and current patients, while always keeping a lookout for interesting presentations to discuss in the future.

How do we manage when things get busy? There are a couple of considerations – firstly that a junior registrar can take a bit of time out of your day so it is a good idea to schedule some gaps between patients, and then we don’t get overly stressed by the continual phone calls. It is a good thing to remember that simply having the registrar should help with the bookings at the practice, which should allow you the time to respond.

But sometimes it gets excessively busy in spite of all our best intentions. The patient always comes first – but which patient? Sometimes the registrar’s patient needs to come before yours, in which case your patient may have to wait. Ensuring that there is a secondary supervisor who can be asked if you are in a consultation that should not be interrupted can make this situation so much easier.

Tutorials do not have to be static and boring. Teaching can involve encouraging registrars to find their own answers – the tutorial being around what their references were. Tutorials can even be taken under a tree or even on a morning walk. There are so many ways to enjoy the teaching sessions, if you open your mind to the experience!

How to Become a GP Supervisor

Why become a GP supervisor? If you have a passion for education and a desire to share your GP skills with the future GP workforce,...