Meet with doctor
Assess readiness to return to work
Faciltate period of supervision
The processes of planning an absence from work and a return to work should be driven by the doctor in order to optimise their action plans for a safe transition back to clinical practice.
Support for doctors returning to work should be delivered in an empathetic and understanding manner and the approach to re-introduction to work should therefore focus on their individual needs.
Additionally, consideration should be given to how they have learnt best in the past to enable them to re-gain skills and knowledge to their previous level and above all ensure they can deliver high quality, safe patient care.
If a doctor has been away for work-related sickness or burnout, special attention should be paid to the contributing factors which led to the period of absence. This will involve an Occupational Health assessment to identify any working adjustments that may be required to minimise potential triggers such as on- call or night-time duties.
Ensuring that doctors feel supported is a key component of enabling individuals to regain confidence and return to work safely and successfully.
This is particularly pertinent in view of attrition rates within our specialty ranging between 29-37% depending on region (HEE/GMC) and a recent RCOG survey showing that up to 79% of Trainees have considered leaving O&G with lack of supervision and poor work-life balance being cited as underlying reasons10.
For the majority of individuals, supporting their return to work will involve a period of supervision. A suggested standard period is 2 weeks, however this will vary depending on the length of time away, the level of doctor and whether they have made any attempt to maintain knowledge and skills whilst away. If any measures have been taken whilst away, the doctor should have kept careful records of this as evidence within their portfolios.