Leadership course for tutors in paediatrics

Dr Helen Goodyear, Associate Postgraduate Dean and Head of the School of Paediatrics; Dr V Ganesan, Consultant Paediatrician and Joint QA Lead for the School of Paediatrics and Ms Ruth Witcombe, Administrator for the School of Paediatrics all from the West Midlands Workforce Deanery explain how they supported tutors in paediatric education through implementing appraisals and creating a leadership course.

The School of Paediatrics has trainees in 19 different hospitals. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) tutor leads medical education in paediatrics in each trust.

There have been many changes in postgraduate training including introduction of e-portfolio, initially version one and subsequently version two and workplace-based assessments. Time for face-to-face teaching has become more difficult to arrange with the reduction in junior doctors training hours to 48 per week with the European working time directive and shift patterns of work.

In addition, RCPCH tutors have often not had time in their contracts for this role which each year has become more onerous. To support RCPCH tutors lead education in their department then we had the following two initiatives:

  • Implementation of focused educational appraisal for RPCCH tutors. Process documentation was drawn up for tutor appraisal including the drivers, key benefits, detailed steps and a template for appraisal. We circulated the documentation to all paediatric tutors with an invitation to participate and over a six-month period appraisal was undertaken by two regional school board members. Information gathered about the training and time available to tutors in their training roles showed marked differences between hospital trusts. Tutors reflection on two aspects of postgraduate training done well and two aspects to improve over the next 12 months including improving teaching and training by a variety of ways and forming a local network of educational providers.  A letter of appraisal was sent to each tutor with details outlining their role for use at their next trust appraisal. At the tutors request a half day tutors' training day was held to share and disseminate good practice.
  • Leadership course for RCPCH tutors. This was run by Dr Ganesan and myself as we have both been on leadership courses and I have considerable knowledge and practical experience in this field. Topics included what is effective leadership in the NHS, what kind of a leader are you and pitfalls to avoid as a leader. We also had sessions on managing change and mentoring. The day evaluated highly with a request to run more similar sessions.

The outcome of these initiatives is that the regional RCPCH tutors feel better supported by the deanery and with increased capability to carry out their role.

This has the impact of raising the standard of medical education in paediatric departments.

The main challenges were the time commitment for these two initiatives and finding dates for the appraisals and a day when the majority of tutors could attend the leadership course.

We did not need any special funding for these initiatives as it was all done "in house" and could therefore be achieved by any of the specialty schools. We plan to run tutor appraisal annually. 

For further information contact Dr Helen Goodyear, Associate Postgraduate Dean and Head of the School of Paediatrics, West Midlands Workforce Deanery at Helen.Goodyear@wm.hee.nhs.uk.