Skip main navigation

Planning learning opportunities

Hello everybody. As a consultant in public health, I have been supervising a wide variety of trainees for several years. These might be General Practice trainees or junior doctors who are placed in the public health department for short periods of time, usually about 3 or 4 months but also public health specialty trainees who are placed with us for a much longer period of time. In our specialty, unlike all other medical specialties, we have trainees from both medical and non-medical backgrounds, so we have to think really carefully in planning learning opportunities for our trainees so that they can achieve the curricular Public Health competencies but also develop themselves professionally as individuals.
Now, in addition, here in England there is an added dimension created by the fact that public health teams might be based in a variety of locations such as the local authorities, Public Health England, NHS England, the local National Health Service, etc. Now this results in trainees having to undergo placements at all these other sites so that they can achieve their specific learning objectives. For example, to learn how to manage an outbreak of communicable disease, and to learn more about preventing and controlling them, trainees complete placements with the specialist health protection teams within Public Health England. Now here they learn firsthand how to deal with communicable disease prevention and control.
For junior doctors and GP trainees this then reinforces the role of the clinician in reporting notifiable diseases such as measles or tuberculosis. Now specialty trainees do longer placements because they have to achieve all of the curricular objectives set by the UK’s Faculty of Public Health. Within public health, we don’t really have a role in patient care directly, so service delivery is completely different and would involve activities such as healthcare needs assessments, commissioning of health improvement services, advising on health impacts of the built environment, public health advice to health service delivery evaluation, quality improvement but also strategy and policy development.
So in professions, or specialties, where direct patient care is the day job, it is often difficult to balance training needs with patient care. But efforts put into pre-planning can help you to provide a safe and equitable structure for providing a variety of learning opportunities.
So here are some key points for you to consider: Try to keep your training events on sight so that people can be contacted if any unforeseen staffing problems suddenly arise. You might have to think about involving staff who do not need to attend that particular training event so that they can provide cover for those attending it. For instance, you might be able to arrange additional consultant cover or trainees of a different grade to work on the team on training days, rotate the training days, agree with the trainees that everyone will be given an equal number of opportunities. This is particularly important when you have trainees or staff who work less than full time.
So you might want to have training events on different days of the week, for example, so that everybody can attend some, if not all, of the events. Good communication with trainees and learners is essential because sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances they might have to unexpectedly miss out on a training event but make sure you give them priority for subsequent events. Encourage trainees or learners themselves to take an active role in planning the training events so that they take ownership of their own learning. I strongly believe that as adult learners, trainees should take responsibility for their own learning. So in an ideal scenario, we should be able to expect trainee lead training.
And finally discuss with your trainees and learners that attending talks with presentations, etc. is only one way of providing formal teaching events. Learning can occur in a variety of contexts when supervisors and trainees are both committed to the educator and learner roles.

Please watch this video where Professor Rodrigues discusses key issues for supervisors to consider in planning learning opportunities for students and trainees in the workplace. How do you plan learning opportunities for your students/trainees? Share your views and experiences with us.

When you use the comments and discussions, remember that you must not disclose any information that could identify any of your patients or your students and trainees.

This article is from the free online

Clinical Supervision: Teaching and Facilitating Learning

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now