This page provides guidance on how to set up and manage a regional education programme in O&G.
Deaneries working through their School Board are better placed than the College to organise a regional education programme of interactive study days and exam practice sessions.
How to set up a regional education programme
Get people involved
To set up a regional education programme, you’ll need the support of other Educational Supervisors and the Training Programme Director, as well as approval from your Specialty Training Committee or School. Try to organise a small steering group to drive the programme and involve people from different geographical areas.
Make sure you involve at least one interested educationalist to help guide you and, crucially, involve trainees in the programme’s development. Often, trainees come up with the most innovative ideas.
Know your needs
Once you’ve set up your steering group, you’ll need to perform a ‘needs analysis’ to find out what your trainees and trainers expect and want to gain from the programme – if you don’t know what people need, you won’t be able to deliver it successfully.
There are several ways to identify your needs, from designing a questionnaire to simply talking to a cross-section of trainees and trainers.
Identify your aims
Think carefully about the overall aims of the programme. Is the programme aimed primarily at pre- or post-MRCOG trainees?
Before designing your training programme, you, your trainers and your trainees all need to be clear about the programme’s objectives.
Consider how to organise your programme
There is evidence that trainees prefer all-day protected teaching sessions and are prepared to travel if the education is up to scratch. Getting agreement for trainees to be released from their individual units is crucial if you’re going to monitor attendance and to ensure your trainers don’t get frustrated by the lack of attendees.
You’ll also need to ensure your trainers are signed up – if your trainers aren’t committed, your trainees won’t be either.
Think about funding
Good education isn’t cheap. Sponsorship from drug companies has traditionally funded many educational meetings, but other models do exist. In some deaneries, study leave budgets have been top-sliced to fund the education programme, with the consent of trainees.
Get the content right
Think hard about content. Remember there are many different learning styles and various ways to incorporate key educational principles into study days. Multidisciplinary learning may be appropriate for some of your programme.
Remember that you’re teaching adults; therefore, their active involvement should ensure their interest and participation. Education sessions should be both informative and fun.
Make sure you get regular feedback and act on it to improve and develop your programme.
Study days are a forum for presentations, debate and discussion. It’s essential to involve local consultants and presenters and participants to maximise the learning value of the meetings.
The study days you organise will probably be primarily aimed at (but not exclusive to) pre-MRCOG specialty trainees. ST6/7 specialty trainees and subspecialty trainees should attend study days devoted to their chosen subspecialty. You should also encourage senior trainees to play a role in organising the study days and providing teaching materials.
One way to set up a study day programme would be for each region to organise a 3-year programme, with three terms per year and three one-day sessions each term (nine meetings a year; no meetings in April, August or December). Base units would release trainees as part of their study leave allocation.
Each region can decide on the type and location of meetings. To date, most regions have chosen to develop theme days allocated to a subspecialty and to rotate the meetings around individual units.
It’s suggested that funding would come from the study leave budget, with a fixed amount top-sliced from each trainee’s allowance. Other ways to get funding include pharmaceutical company sponsorship.
Each 3-year cycle should cover the nine main subspecialty headings:
- Benign gynaecology
- Fetal medicine
- General obstetrics/intrapartum care
- Gynaecological endocrinology
- Gynaecological oncology
- Maternal medicine
- Preterm labour/prematurity/perinatal issues
Study days should incorporate a mixture of learning styles, e.g. didactic lectures, debates, small group discussions, quizzes, etc. Speakers within the specialty can provide greater depth, covering topics such as:
- Breaking bad news/symptom control
- Diabetes and pregnancy/pituitary tumours
- Fistula/ureteric damage/recurrent urinary tract infection
- General endocrinology/diabetes
- Genitourinary medicine
- Palliative medicine
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Thrombophilia/transfusion medicine
Consider asking some speakers to use their topic to demonstrate principles of medical practice. Examples might include:
- Benefits and drawbacks of random-allocation trials
- Breech presentation/delivery
- Cerebral palsy
- Cervical cerclage
- Cervical cytology
- Intention-to-treat studies
- Medico-legal practice (duty of care, etc.)
- Principles of screening
- Testing for Down syndrome
- Using evidence-based medicine
You should record trainees’ attendance and formally review this at their ARCP. You can decide targets for attendance at regional level according to local factors.
If you have any questions, or need more information, please see the list of contacts in the education and training team at the RCOG, or the A–Z of all useful contacts at the College.