Introducing our new educational supervisors guide in PAIID

What can we learn from each other? Dr Siân Ludman, consultant paediatric allergist, and her trainee and consultant colleagues have developed a new guide for those supervising trainees in paediatric allergy, immunology and infectious diseases. An achievement to be proud of – and she hopes it inspires other sub-specialties.

My name is Siân Ludman and I am a consultant paediatric allergist at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and am the present Paediatric Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Diseases (PAIID) CSAC Training Advisor for the Allergy trainees. A bit of a mouthful of a title for a small CSAC (College Specialty Advisory Committee), I know, but we are a close-knit committee and in the wonderful position of being able to really get to know our trainees as they pass through our hands. We have traditionally been extremely lucky in our trainee representatives on the CSAC for allergy and infectious diseases. Indeed, the vast lion’s share of what I will be discussing in this article must be credited to Dr Nandinee Patel (outgoing allergy trainee rep) and Dr Aisleen Bennett (ID trainee rep).

...any collaborative working and “show and tell” between the CSACs is to be encouraged

CSACs are often islands of isolation within the College, though I hope this will start to change in October with a new CSAC meeting setup, and I look forward to meeting more of my CSAC colleagues. In the past it has been hard to know what other CSACs are offering their trainees and what excellent practice is out there, which other CSACs might want to use to benefit their trainees. When I was approached by the College to write this piece I was initially hesitant, as I did not feel that our new guide was of great importance to the wider College membership. But on further reflection, I felt that any collaborative working and “show and tell” between the CSACs is to be encouraged.

In the PAIID CSAC we survey our trainees bi-annually to try and keep track of any fledgling issues around the country. One issue that had started to appear was the relationship between trainees and educational supervisors. This role has changed over time with the advent of RCPCH Progress curriculum, trainee-driven forms and even the ePortfolio itself. There is much more onus, I feel, on the educational supervisor to keep abreast of such changes. And as ARCPs (Annual Reviews of Competence for Progression) continue to move away from face-to-face meetings, supervisors need to take on the weight of truly being content that a trainee is ready to progress. As I sit on our regional ARCPs, I can attest to the difference a thoughtful, well written and detailed supervisor’s report can make.

This new guide was driven and written by the trainee reps, highlighting what they felt was important for our sub-specialty

Our trainee reps felt that a guide would go some way to offer support and a framework. We already had a successful How to CCT in PAIID guide that is given to each new trainee when they are offered a place in our sub-specialty - so the formation of a guide for educational supervisors seemed sensible. This new guide was driven and written by the trainee reps, highlighting what they felt was important for our sub-specialty and how we could assist educational supervisors to make supervision events really count. We have included sections on the first report through to the last one pre-CCT.

As a CSAC, we wanted to keep the guide quite short, so it would work for time-pressured consultants. This was a challenge - as PAIID has three disparate but intertwined medical specialties, and we need to future proof for any pandemic-sized training issues – but we think it works, and is a document we’re all proud of.

What’s next? We’ll send this to our educational supervisors around the country. We’ll also virtually meet with them as a group once a year, hopefully during our relevant national conferences.

We hope that you do browse through this guide. If you find it helpful, our template is available from the College’s Quality & Standards team to cut and paste your own CSAC relevant information – you can contact them at As the PAIID CSAC, we’d love to hear hearing about any projects that other CSACs have been involved in that would improve trainee experiences. It is our belief that sharing these practices will benefit all our trainees.