Dr GPV returned to general practice after having recovered from a significant mental illness. The conditions imposed on her return by AHPRA are that she only work under supervision and that she undertakes a mentoring program to assist her with her clinical skills. The mentoring entails regular monthly sessions with direct observation of, and feedback on, her consulting, along with monitoring of her progress. Dr GPV has a supportive supervisor in the practice. She engages readily in the mentoring sessions which she says are very beneficial. After 12 months, however, the mentor determines there is very little improvement in her clinical skills. Dr GPV feels that this assessment is harsh. She takes a break from practice, then returns to work for a period of time, after which she decides to cease clinical practice altogether because she finds it very stressful.
Observations and questions
Health issues and clinical skills concerns often go hand in hand and do impact on each other. The supervision and mentoring assisted Dr GPV to return to practice and feel supported at the same time. It also provided a means for monitoring her safety to practise. Dr GPV lacked insight and had difficulty accepting her deficiencies whenever they were pointed out to her. With the assistance of her mentor she was eventually able to recognise and accept that she would never achieve the required standard of practice. She also came to the realisation that she couldn’t afford to have a mental breakdown again. When Dr GPV took the short break from practice these things were already in her mind and she was starting to think about what she would do if she stopped practising.
Is this case a success story or a failure?
The supervisor’s terms of engagement are to support and monitor Dr GPV’s clinical capability and progress. If a serious critical incident occurs, is the supervisor vicariously liable?
If Dr GPV had not accepted the feedback that her performance was less than satisfactory, what can the practice do?