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Top tips for College Tutors and Educational Supervisors

This page provides advice, guidance and tips for anyone working as a trainer in O&G, particularly College Tutors and Educational Supervisors.

General tips

Create a good learning environment

A good environment for learning needs to feel welcoming and supportive. You may wish to try the following:

  • Write to trainees before they take up their post to welcome them to their new unit
  • Provide a folder with important information, e.g. contact points, phone numbers, etc.
  • Consider having multiple mentors (consultant, midwife, nurse, registrar)
  • Provide positive written feedback after the trainee’s first 2 weeks
  • Use every opportunity to give verbal praise
  • Avoid negative criticism in public
  • Focus on means of improvement rather than chastisement
  • Ensure good communication about all the educational events in your unit

Organise appraisals

  • Have a master sheet outlining what should occur in each week of the year
  • Timetable appraisals into the educational programme
  • Ask trainees to send TO1 forms at least 1 month before their assessment at the end of the attachment

Share responsibilities

  • Encourage all Educational Supervisors and trainees to take an active role in the programme: hold a meeting every 6 months to discuss the programme for the months ahead and share work out as much as possible

Tips for educational meetings

Have joint meetings

  • Wherever possible, interlink O&G meetings with teaching programmes for other professions and disciplines, e.g. midwives, nurses, anaesthetists and paediatricians
  • Joint meetings might help maintain good relations with other departments, e.g. chronic pain management, blood transfusion and wound management, especially if you hold a social event after the meeting

Avoid having to cancel meetings

  • Plan well ahead to encourage preparation
  • Book the room 1 month in advance and confirm in writing
  • Send reminders of responsibilities 2 weeks before the meeting
  • Keep two prepared tutorials in reserve in case of cancellations

Keep the programme fresh

It’s not always possible to have a completely new programme every year. To keep things from going stale, you could:

  • Use differing seminar techiniques (e.g. role play, skills training)
  • Encourage outside speakers (e.g. from other departments in the hospital)
  • Take note if you hear of a good speaker
  • Promote active participation
  • Socialise afterwards

Collate clinical cases

  • It can be difficult to find suitable clinical cases for discussion – keep a library of a few very instructive cases that you can reuse from time to time  
  • Emphasise that cases don’t have to be rare topics or controversial issues, but simply need to be illustrative of a particular presentation, treatment or complication

Keep attendees motivated

  • Keep seminar rooms cool and comfortable
  • Make sure there are enough seats
  • Avoid long lectures with the lights down
  • Have a break in the middle for tea
  • Make the second half of the programme more interactive, e.g. eclampsia rehearsals, basic life support, risk management tasks, etc.

Encourage attendance

Obviously, having a fun, dynamic programme helps, but attendance can still be a problem. The techniques below may help maximise trainees’ attendance:

  • Find out why attendance is an issue
  • Ask the consultant to hold trainees’ bleeps
  • Make trainees responsible for running as much of the seminar as possible
  • Keep a register of attendance

Conduct meetings well

  • There needs to be both informality and a structure
  • Meetings need a chairperson to time proceedings, facilitate discussion and thank contributors at the end

Maintain and assess quality

  • For a learning programme to succeed, it has to be liked – by using feedback, it’s easy to learn what works well, what doesn’t and what’s been left out
  • Written and anonymous feedback has many advantages, but an informal debrief meeting may provide valuable additional information

Contact us

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.

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