AGPT practice and supervisor handbook

For supervisors

Support your registrar

Support your registrar

Supporting your registrar’s wellbeing

It’s appropriate for a supervisor to take an interest in and monitor the wellbeing of their registrar. The transition from hospital to general practice work can be stressful. For many registrars this is the first time they have had significant responsibility for patient care. Studies show that the highest levels of emotional distress in a doctor’s life occur early in their careers. Registrars value the supervisor’s experience and sage advice about the professional and ethical challenges of working as a GP and being a doctor in the community.

Registrars can lack influence in the general practice environment and about specific decisions that impact on them. You should check that your registrar is being treated equitably in the apportioning of in-hours and out-of-hours work. For example, they should not do any more out-of-hours than is expected of other GPs in your practice. You may need to advocate for the registrar to ensure that they have sufficient teaching time and clinical exposure to meet their educational needs.

You may be able to help prevent burnout by encouraging the registrar to develop and maintain healthy work and life habits. However, supervisors should not enter into a formal therapeutic relationship with their registrar. Contact the local RACGP team if you have concerns about the wellbeing of your registrar.

For helpful information and a list of resources for registrars, refer to the Registrar safety and support section of the AGPT registrar handbook.

Supporting a registrar who isn’t progressing as expected

Leaving the hospital system to become a general practice registrar is a difficult transition. With training program support registrars generally adapt well and progress through the training program.

For some registrars this adjustment is more difficult. As a supervisor, you’re an important member of the education team and uniquely situated to identify these registrars at an early stage, through your close working relationship in the practice. Important sources of information about the registrar’s progress will come from patients, practice staff and colleagues as well as from your own monitoring of the registrar through formal teaching, corridor consultations, direct observation, and review of the registrar’s notes, prescribing and test ordering.

Communicate your concerns to the registrar in a timely manner, clearly and with compassion. This allows the registrar to become aware of any unrecognised learning needs, and with your support, adjust their learning plan to address these areas. The registrar’s local medical educator and/or training coordinator should also be notified about any relevant concerns with the registrar so that they can support both the registrar and you to address learning needs and monitor the registrar’s progress.

For helpful information about supporting a registrar who has performance concerns, refer to the A Guide to managing performance concerns in general practice registrars and A guide to understanding and managing performance concerns in international medical graduates.

GPSA also has useful information about performance management; refer to the GPSA website for more information.

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