A GP’s new year’s resolution – ‘I promise this year, that I will not leave collating evidence for my annual review to the last minute.’
As a GP Specialty Trainee (GPST) it is vital to record learning opportunities, assessments, and reflections encountered while working to progress through the training programme and become fully qualified.
With weeks turning to months, intentions of recording the evidence for your portfolio as you go seem a distant memory, and you find yourself trying to reflect on what you experienced when treating a child with otitis media 8 months ago.
With a modernised online GP trainee portfolio now available, the aim to gather evidence of progress throughout the year is now a realistic goal, and it has got a lot more user friendly to do so.
What is GP Specialty Training?
The 3-year full-time GP specialty training (GPST) programme training places trainees on a path to gain full membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and be issued with a certificate of completion of training (CCT) in General Practice by the GMC. Though many opt to do less than full time training, following the full-time course immediately after foundation years means that doctors can be a fully qualified GP within 5 years of leaving medical school.
The three-year programme is usually split with 18 months spent in both general practice and hospital placement. All posts in GP are in an approved practice under the supervision of a GP trainer from whom you will receive personalised tuition to meet your targeted needs.
To gain membership of the RCGP by the end of the specialty training programme, trainees must complete 3 separate components of the course: workplace-based assessments (WPBA), as well as the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) and the Clinical Skills Assessment (CSA) which are the external membership exams set by the MRCGP.
Between each year of training, the evidence from WPBAs and the GP Trainee Portfolio is reviewed by the Annual Review of Competency Progress (ARCP) Panel to determine whether progression can be made to the next stage of training.
How does the Portfolio fit into my GP training?
As a GP Specialty Trainee (GPST), you will be assigned to an educational supervisor based in General Practice throughout your time on the programme. Your educational supervisor will guide you through the various WPBAs to be recorded in the GP Trainee Portfolio as well as help you collect and record evidence of the 13 areas of professional capabilities and 8 clinical experience groups (CEG) outlined in the training curriculum.
Textbox 1. The 13 Professional Capabilities and 4 Clinical Experience Groups outlined in the RCGP curriculum
13 Professional Capabilities
- Fitness to Practice
- Maintaining an ethical approach
- Communication and Consultation Skills
- Data Gathering and Interpretation
- Clinical Examination and Procedural Skills
- Making a diagnosis /decisions
- Clinical management
- Managing medical complexity
- Working with colleagues and in teams
- Maintaining performance, learning and teaching
- Organisation, Management and leadership
- Practising Holistically, Promoting health and safeguarding
- Community orientation
4 Clinical Experience Groups
- Infants, children and young people
- Gender, reproductive and sexual health
- People with long-term conditions including cancer, multi-morbidity and disability
- Older adults including frailty and/or people at end of life
The Trainee Portfolio is where all progression is recorded in the form of learning logs and WPBA which provides the evidence required for the ARCP. It is a mainstay tool for monitoring and assessing trainees and therefore it is essential to competently use the ePortfolio as the main method of documenting advancement through GP speciality training.
Why is the GP Trainee Portfolio important?
The GP Trainee Portfolio and WPBA allow trainees to be assessed continually in areas hard to evaluate in exam format. The focus is making sure trainees learn and reflect on day-to-day practice, building a more qualitative view on capabilities acquired throughout training and this is made possible in the form of learning logs on the Portfolio.
Learning logs should be a reflective demonstration of personal insight into performance and learning from everyday experience. Reflection is a process of looking back over knowledge, experiences or events and critically analysing what has been learned and planning for any changes that need to be made as a result. Reflective practice allows doctors to gain a deeper understanding of both themselves and those they interact with and is essential for modern general practice.
Figure 1. Example of the different formats of learning logs on the GP Trainee Portfolio by FourteenFish.
Learning logs can be recorded in many different formats, but clinical case reviews are the most required, with 36 needed each year. For each clinical case reflection, you can select a maximum of 2 clinical experience groups and 3 capabilities that it matches to.
How to get the most out of the GP Trainee Portfolio
The GP Trainee Portfolio is the hub of GP training bringing the curriculum, learning and assessment together. In 2020, FourteenFish worked in partnership with the RCGP to redesign the Trainee Portfolio to make a user-friendly interface for all involved. The multipurpose website encompasses many features including the ability to send WPBA invitations to the assessors, enter your learning logs with attachments as well as enter the dates of the RCGP exams on your profile to make it personalised to you. The new compatible app means trainees can record learning logs and review existing entries on the go, whether online or offline, with all changes being synced to your profile.
The new website also allows you to visually check your progress with the dashboard feature. The dashboard is split into the different required capabilities and clinical experience groups listed in the RCGP curriculum. For each learning log you enter and match to the relevant topic, a green lozenge will fill on the home screen. This allows training to easily see if they are on track for their next educational supervisor review.
It doesn’t stop there
After completing GP Specialty Training and becoming a fully-fledged member of the RCGP, the use of the ePortfolio continues.
GPs are expected to keep up to date after completing their initial training, with a yearly appraisal process leading up to revalidation every 5 years.
While revalidation is essential for the RCGP to make sure its members remain fit to practise, appraisal is a formative process focusing on taking time to reflect on your personal and professional development with the help of a trained appraiser. It is therefore essential to document reflective records and personal development plans throughout the year to build up a portfolio that supports you as a reflective professional. There are many online toolkits and user friendly ePortfolio sites available to assist in the compilation of such evidence.
It is definitely worth getting to grips with the ePortfolio early on in training as it is a concept that will continue to be a growing part of training and professional development throughout your career in General Practice.
With the recent GP trainee portfolio revamp courtesy of new supplier FourteenFish, the user interface has now caught up with current technology. Recording reflections, noting learning opportunities and monitoring your own progress through the training programme has never been easier.