This year marks the third year of the Practice Experience Program (PEP). To date, we have had eight intakes in PEP, and we are expecting three more for this year. GP Synergy is excited to see this program continues to thrive despite some limitations it faces, from its lean resources to those resulted from COVID-19.
In PEP, there are four intakes per year and participants spend different durations in the program depending on their experience and clinical competencies. Therefore, some participants join as well as complete the program at each term four times a year. This design requires precise and responsive operational capacity to ensure all administrative and educational requirements are met according to the individual participant’s time in the program. As the largest provider of PEP, we have a robust capacity to adapt to this unique operational nature of PEP.
Currently, we support around 150 participants and we are expecting more in April. In the last six months alone, we have 83 new participants joining the PEP with GP Synergy, five of which are in the specialist stream. Last year we farewelled 46 participants who completed their program successfully. We have noticed a further increase in participants’ engagement and commitment to the program with only one withdrawal all last year.
In 2020, our participants demonstrated agility and enthusiasm to accommodate the necessary changes in the delivery of the program due to the pandemic. One of the major changes has been the delivery of direct observations online using videoconferencing to ensure the safety of participants, patients, and assessors. GP Synergy delivered more than 100 direct observations on Zoom in 2020 for PEP alone and is proud of the quality of the education that was achieved. On reflection, those changes have created opportunities for PEP to thrive. We have enjoyed developing the experience and skills of conducting remote assessments. Whilst it has been unfortunate to have fewer opportunities to meet our participants in person, the online platform has enabled a more discrete presence in the consulting room. This has ensured that patients are not distracted, the participants performed more at ease, and therefore more authentic assessments were completed. Also, the online direct observations enabled us to reach those participants in remote areas, providing them with an excellent variety of assessors. Distance became no barrier anymore which is fantastic.
Due to the success of the online platform to assess our participants, GP Synergy PEP team moved all the case-based discussions to be conducted over Zoom as well. This has helped to strengthen our relationship with the participants and therefore enhanced the mentoring and educational support we could provide.
Optional supportive activities
Last year GP Synergy managed to conduct three clinical reasoning focus workshops on Zoom. Those workshops were interactive, and every participating doctor had multiple opportunities to analyse different clinical scenarios and demonstrate their competencies in clinical decision making.
GP Synergy also ran few interactive educational webinars with the PEP participants covering different topics such as mental health, ethics, preventative health and more. Those optional activities were very well received and had high attendance rate.
We are always keen to hear the voice of our participants and allow this to help shape the future of the program. The PEP anonymous evaluation survey in September demonstrated high levels of satisfaction from the participants. 83% of participants responded to the survey. Of these, 88% described their experience of receiving mentoring as very useful or useful, 97% found the case-based discussion meeting very useful or useful, and 89% found the direct observation visit very useful or useful.
We also ran an anonymous survey to evaluate the optional educational activities designed and delivered by GP Synergy PEP team. 80% of the workshop’s attendees completing the evaluation survey. Of these, 90% rated the educational activities as useful in meeting their learning needs of developing a clear framework for approaching the KFP and in demonstrating clinical reasoning.
PEP medical education team
We are very excited to have grown substantially as a team welcoming three new medical educators. Our medical education team is now larger, stronger, and more diverse. Our administration team has also expanded to provide more operational support to the PEP team and the participants. Each of our new team members brings rich experience and knowledge and contributes new ideas and energy to the team.
PEP – the future
In response to feedback from the RTOs and participants, the RACGP has instituted some major changes in PEP going forward. One major change is the move towards more work-based assessments (WBA). The PEP team is excited by this improvement allowing more interactions with our participants and more opportunities for one-to-one feedback. GP Synergy PEP team focus remains on conducting high-quality and diverse educational assessments. This focus assists our participants to have a rich learning experience and to be more competent future GPs.
Additionally, GP Synergy PEP team is hoping to run topic-based optional study groups which will help to grow relationships and facilitate learning in a different forum. This will also enable participants who are in remote areas or feel isolated to connect with other fellow GPs in training.
Dr Rula Ali | Head of Practice Experience Program