The rotation phase
For the rotation phase of the STP consider contacting (and preferably meeting) rotation providers to agree dates and supervision arrangements. You may need a formal agreement; download a copy of our example statement of agreement. Consider the use of honorary contracts with rotation providers if they are from another organisation. Your human resources department may need to advise on this. Check first whether the arrangements are included in your Learning and Development Agreement (LDA) with your local Health Education England (HEE) office (or country equivalent). For private providers offering rotation placements, check whether a service level agreement is required.
Try to produce a detailed plan for the first rotation, with the key tasks, learning outcomes and a timetable. Rotations may be in small departments without a great deal of resource, and they should not be expected to produce the plan entirely in isolation. The overall responsibility for planning with a trainee lies with the named training officer/co-ordinator; however, for specialist rotations it is the rotation host department that will have the best understanding of the area of work in question. Therefore, best practice is for the training officer to take responsibility for a plan being produced, and ideally to produce it in co-operation with the rotation provider.
Patients and the public
The patient must be at the centre of all the trainee does and this should be reflected in the training plan. The trainee must be encouraged to understand the patient’s experience and journey through the healthcare system. Different scientific disciplines will involve differing degrees of direct contact with patients. It is still necessary to build a strong patient focus into the training. Trainees who have significant clinical interaction with patients will naturally be assessed on their patient facing skills. You may also collect patient feedback on their performance.
For those who have less occasion to meet patients, plan to ensure that opportunities are deliberately built into the programme.
For example, trainees from time to time attend:
- Meetings of disease specific groups such as patient support or rehabilitation groups
- Patient feedback meetings with a relevance to their work;
- Patient support groups such as Macmillan centres.
The trainee should be encouraged to consider the ethical, psychological and social impact of their work both on the individual and wider society. Broader public engagement could involve attendance at careers events, public forums or governance groups within the organisation to get a better understanding of the wider implications of their work. You may wish to encourage trainees to sign up as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics network (STEM) ambassadors and encourage them to form networks and organise their own meetings and journal clubs.
When your department applies for accreditation as a training centre, one of the issues the School as accrediting body focuses on is Patient and Public Involvement. It is important that everyone in the department reads and understands the principles and values described in the NHS Constitution.
Develop contingency plans
You cannot plan for all contingencies but you can have a process to follow: a list of contacts, some alternative activities held in reserve. This is another aspect of training in which a strong network locally and nationally will help a great deal. You can also go to a number of sources of support, advice and information, including the School, your local HEE office healthcare science lead (or country equivalent), or your organisation’s lead scientist or learning and development/education and training lead.
Remember that the trainee is normally supernumerary and is pursuing academic study
In all of your planning for the trainee, remember that the training posts are normally supernumerary, and that time must be provided for the academic study element including the MSc research project which will be undertaken in the workplace. This is particularly important in the case of in service trainees, because the department will be used to relying on them to provide service. Clinical exposure is an essential element of training; however the department should be able to function normally without their contribution to service provision. The trainee’s colleagues should be aware of this.
The trainee should also be aware that an entitlement to study time does not necessarily mean they can take the same day every week as a ring-fenced study day (unless the training officer/department decide that is the right approach). The trainee needs to be flexible about study time.
Identify the people in the department and elsewhere who will fulfil the main training roles
The roles are training officer, training co-ordinator, training supervisor, and assessor/ rater/reviewer.
In a small department, a single person may fill several of these roles. The training co-ordinator role is designed for training consortia: he/she has an overview of all trainees within a consortium, who may be placed in a number of different Trusts or organisations. This role may not be applicable in all cases and may be combined with the training officer role.
Before the trainee arrives, it is best practice to identify the training officer and/or co-ordinator, the training supervisor for at least the first rotation, and any staff in your organisation who will be assessors; to ensure they are briefed and prepared. Training works best as a team effort. As long as the training co-ordinator/officer retains oversight, there is nothing to prevent trainees being coached and mentored in particular skills, procedures etc. by a competent, less senior member of staff. Less senior staff may also be involved in assessing the trainee’s competence, provided there is quality control from the training officer. However, trainees should not assess other trainees.