Training principle of the month 8: Educational supervision is of high quality and provides consistency

This month, Dr Emma Dyer and Dr Diarmuid McLaughlin take us through some case studies of different forms of supervision and a quick presentation which you can also use to highlight the importance of the Paediatrician of the Future document. We also hear from Dr Shilpa Shah and Dr Kumudini Gomez about what good supervision means to them.
RCPCH Progress+ Training principle of the month
Last modified
9 May 2022

From children and young people

We have helped in the past with the PAFTAs by having a judging panel where young people help decide on the best trainee of the year and the best Education Supervisor. We can see that the best ones have good support, look after each other, have the fun stuff too (coffee together, cheese & cake parties) and get to do good work with children and young people, plus have an open door so doctors can have a chat with other doctors whenever they need it. 

Some RCPCH &Us members have been involved with interviews for staff including clinical fellows, for members joining committees as well as setting questions to help members choose the new President or to choose a new clinical director. In all of these we get the chance to ask people what they think makes a supportive colleague, or how they want to help others.  We’ve heard about how for members, their educational supervisors have really made a difference to inspire them to do different things like volunteer abroad or to create ways to help  others by running learning lunches or having drop in sessions. 

Finally, we’ve been really amazed each year by the Voice Champions of the Year nominees and winners, which have included lots of paediatricians who have gone over and above to help us.  Whilst we know that they are not our educational supervisors for paediatrics, we are always impressed how they use the same skills to teach us as young people to develop and to do good things with RCPCH.  

It’s really important that doctors have their wellbeing and mental health looked after too, and have somewhere to go to talk about difficult situations like talking about SUDEP with patients and families or knowing how to ask about pronouns.  This is why having the best supervisors is so important!

Make or break the trainee experience - video

Good educational supervision can be career and life changing for a trainee

In this video Dr Shilpa Shah and Dr Kumudini Gomez share their experience of what good Educational Supervision looks like and why it is so important to the trainee experience. 

CBD Clinics - Case Study

Training level: All levels

What prompted the change? Trainees were finding it difficult to get assessments completed, as when they were in their clinical role it was always busy, and Consultants were pushed for time. The more senior trainees were also often practicing independently (particularly out of hours) and so it was harder to get assessments completed with a consultant. 

What happened? Consultants who were clinical and educational supervisors set up “CBD Clinics”. During COVID these happened virtually, although it would also work face to face. These were regular slots where trainees could book in to discuss a case for a CBD assessment. The time was protected for both the trainee and Consultant, and so there was dedicated time for a meaningful discussion and reflection, as well as contemporaneous completion of the CBD assessment in the trainees e-portfolio. Feedback was then be passed on to the trainee’s educational supervisor if it was a different Consultant completing the assessment. 

How did this support training and trainees? This meant that trainees had increased opportunity to get CBD assessments completed, in a way that was fair and accessible for all trainees. As this time was protected away from clinical duties for both the Consultant and the trainee, these had real educational value as they weren’t rushed or reduced to a “tick box exercise”. It also meant that the work was spread around different Consultants and supervisors. 

Any practical tips?

  • Ensure that the clinics are regular enough and rotate days to allow all trainees including those that work LTFT to access them at some point.  
  • Consider whether remote or face to face, or perhaps a hybrid model would work best for your trainees and your workplace. 

Practical and Personal Supervision - Case Study

Training level: All levels

What happened? The trainee’s educational supervisor (or clinical supervisor if the ES is not working with them clinically at the time) identified opportunities with the trainee in advance of working together. For example, when it was their hot week, arranging that their trainee lead the ward round on a particular day and then sitting down together afterwards to reflect on it, identify learning points, and complete a LEADER assessment. Or, when that trainee was on a night shift and their supervisor was due to be present in the handover in the morning, arranging in advance to use this opportunity to do a HAT assessment.

How did this support training and trainees? This meant that trainees had ample opportunity to do meaningful assessments with real educational value. Arranging them in advance meant that they could prepare in any way that they wanted to beforehand, and also know that they were going to have opportunities to get these assessments done. It meant that the clinical work felt more like a training opportunity than just simply service provision, as their supervisor was taking a proactive interest in their training. 

Any practical tips? 

  • Ensure that this sort of approach is happening from all supervisors so that all trainees are having access to these kinds of opportunities.  
  • Supervisors can identify with trainees in their supervisor meetings when they are both going to be working at the same time, and ear mark certain days or times to do certain assessments, so that they are both working towards that.  
  • Ensure that time is spent discussing and reflecting after the event, so that it is a meaningful learning experience.  

Longitudinal Supervision - Case Study

Training level: All levels

What prompted the change? A lack of continuity was felt by trainees receiving a different supervisor every 6-month period when moving to a different rotation or hospital. As set out in the RCPCH Paediatrician of the future: Delivering really good training guidance, consistent educational supervision is aimed to provide consistency for trainees and in particular longer-term support and understanding of their developmental needs. 

What happened? Trainees were allocated a supervisor for a minimum period of 1 year even if the trainee moved to a different hospital or speciality.  

Any practical tips? 

  • Aim to match trainees to supervisors, where possible, based on career aspirations/plans (if known) or if there is a particular shared work interest.
  • The importance of allocating the same educational supervisor should be promoted for all trainees but in particular for core level trainees as set out in RCPCH Paediatrician of the future: Delivering really good training guidance.

Helping trainees to flourish - training presentation

You can use this presentation to get your team thinking about what good Educational Supervision looks like to them and how it fits in with the Paediatrician of the future

Find out more about what to expect from Progress+

Dr Emma Dyer is a Paediatric Registrar and is RCPCH ePortfolio and curriculum trainee representative. Diarmuid McLaughlin is an ST4 paediatric trainee and represents Northern Ireland on our Trainee's Committee.