Jennie Bell, Professional Lead for Cellular Sciences and Genetics gave a short session offering a trainer’s view of the STP programme and suggesting a number of key tips for trainees embarking on the programme.
Jennie began by introducing the Training Officer’s role. Fundamentally, she suggested, the Training Officer’s role is to be a guide for their trainees, a guide who makes sure that trainees are not just progressing, but progressing at an appropriate pace. In other words, the Training Officer’s role is to be one step ahead of the trainee, anticipating where they need to be and smoothing the path ahead. She pointed out that Training Officers will also have busy clinical roles in their departments and yet it is also their role to create an appropriate learning environment for the trainee in the busy workplace. In her ‘day job’ Jennie is head of the cancer genetics programme at the West Midlands Regional Genetics Laboratory and a training officer for genetics trainees.
Jennie offered trainees a wealth of practical advice about how to succeed on the programme. Principal amongst these were:
- Be organised and forward-looking about your programme from the very start.
- Be proactive with your Training Officer and seek to develop a really positive relationship with them.
- When you are experiencing problems, speak to your Training Officer early.
- Use OLAT a lot: this is where and how you can gain feedback regularly. Do this as early as possible; stick your toe in the water and share your evidence and your work in progress.
- Using OLAT early and often opens up important opportunities to receive feedback on your evidence.
- Keep a steady pace from the very beginning. Don’t procrastinate in the collection of evidence for your ongoing assessments.
- A key skill at the very core of the programme is constructive feedback. You will receive it from your Training Officer and develop the ability to provide it and learn from it.
Jennie finished her session with this fundamental advice: It is your training. Your Training Officer is there to direct and not to spoon feed you. So, more than anything, seek to own your training.