Becoming an Educator for Primary Care

Many of those who have been a GP for a few years consider the possibility of extending their role and becoming a GP teacher; either at undergraduate or Foundation level or as a trainer of GP speciality registrars. There is an expectation that all doctors should be involved with teaching, ('Good medical practice GMC 2006'). For some, teaching becomes more than an expectation and develops into an important part of everyday practice and a lifelong skill.

To become an effective teacher however, one must develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes of a competent teacher. Health Education East of England can guide you in this respect. Although to be a GP Trainer you must be a GP, successful educators in primary care can become Associate Trainers.

There are two parts to the process. The first is learning about education, done through experience and some academic study; for example we ask Trainers to undertake a Postgraduate Certificate of Education. The second part is to gain approval from Health Education East of England for yourself as an educator and the environment in which you work as being suitable for professional learners. This page deals with the educational requirements for LETB roles.

Becoming an Associate Trainer

For many GPs, deciding to be an associate trainer is the first logical step. Essentially, the Associate Trainer (AT) acts as an assistant to the Trainer, usually within the same practice, assisting with GP registrar tutorials and clinical supervision. However ATs are also approved for medical student teaching, Foundation training (F2) supervision and teaching during 'Out of hours' sessions. Information about the process of becoming a clinical supervisor who solely teaches trainees in Out of Hours providers is contained on the Out of Hours page of this website.

To be approved as an associate Trainer, you must :

  • Be a member of the RCGP or equivalent
  • Have completed a foundation teachers course or equivalent. For example, you should have completed a module demonstrating your learning and teaching abilities, either through accreditation of prior experience or a taught course. Health Education East of England also runs Associate Trainer courses from time to time.
  • Have been approved by Health Education East of England.

Becoming a GP Trainer

Whether you have been an associate trainer or not, you can become a full GP trainer and an educational supervisor for GP specialty training once you have been a GP in practice for 3 years FTE (full time equivalent).

To be approved as a Trainer you must

  • Be a member of the RCGP
  • Complete an approved training course; postgraduate certificate, ( HSHS or MACE module 1 and 2) diploma or degree in Medical Education
  • Work with your practice to ensure that the standards for a training practice are achievable and met

You can then apply to Health Education East of England to be approved as a trainer. Health Education East of England will then determine if you and your practice meet the required criteria.

Becoming a Programme Director for General Practice Training

Most Training Programme Directors have spent some time as a trainer, or perhaps a GP tutor, but this is not always necessary.

The GP Specialty Training Programme Director ( TPD) is a GP postgraduate teacher and educational manager, responsible for the development of a specialty training program for a locality. A TPD will monitor the progress of GPSTs and work closely with the GP trainers attached to their programme. He/She supports the professional development of GPSTs, encouraging autonomy and developing their sensitivity to patients' needs, using group learning approaches in particular whilst ensuring that they address the requirements of the MRCGP.

To become a Programme Director you need to

  • Be a member of the RCGP (professional & Clinical standard)
  • Complete an approved training course; postgraduate certificate, diploma or degree in Medical Education (educational standard)
  • Have attended a suitable course and or demonstrate experience of teaching small groups.
  • Be fully conversant with the MRCGP, the GP Curriculum, and e-portfolio.
  • If not in clinical practice, then be within 2 years of retirement from it.

Becoming an Out of Hours Clinical Supervisor

HEEoE/ LETB both provides education and accredits doctors and others who wish to become clinical supervisors in Out of Hours environments. HEEoE/ LETB policy statement contains more detail about this role.

To be an out of hours clinical supervisor, the following must apply:

  • GP trainer, GP associate Postgraduate Deans and GP Training Programme Directors
  • Associate GP Trainers

You will automatically be approved.

Others with appropriate experience may be approved as Clinical Supervisors by application to the HEEoE/LETB:

  • Holders of postgraduate certificates, diplomas or degrees in education. 
  • Other examples of those who might be suitable include ex-trainers, GPs who have completed a “Clinical Supervisor/ Teaching The Teachers” course, partners of trainers who have significant documented experience of teaching and undergraduate teachers and tutors

For non-GP Clinical Supervisors this includes:

  • Those who are recognised by their own profession as qualified to teach students at the level to which they will be teaching GP Specialist Trainees
  • Those who have successfully completed an Associate Trainers or OOH Clinical Supervisor’s course within HEEoE.

Teaching Courses

Please click here for information on courses run by HEEoE

Local Educational Resources

Recommended University Courses

RCGP membership

Criteria can be found on the RCGP website.

Teaching Cambridge Undergraduates

Are you an enthusiastic GP who would like to teach Cambridge undergraduate students in your practice or at the university? We send students to practices across the East of England. If you become a GP tutor at Cambridge University, you also have the opportunity to develop your skills by attending our GP development programme. This leads to associate status of the Higher Education Academy (AHEA). We are always keen to hear from GPs who are interested in finding out more about opportunities for involvement in undergraduate teaching. Please feel free to get in touch by telephoning the GP Education Group office on 01223 330364 or the admin team on 01223 762516, or visit our website for more information.

Teaching UEA Undergraduates

The Norwich Medical School has a modular, integrated, Problem Based Learning Course with emphasis on early patient contact. This is largely achieved through the involvement of a network of Practices in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Students spend a day in Primary Care, in groups of 10, during approximately 8 weeks of each module. The day involves a combination of core teaching on the topics for the day (e.g. history taking, clinical examination skills, prescribing skills) as well as patient interviews and discussion of the issues raised as a result.

GP Practices and Primary Care Tutors are supported by year specific Practice Development Tutors and there are additional Tutor Development sessions at UEA. There is opportunity for interested GPs to get involved other aspects of delivering the Course and in the Assessment process (e.g. consultation skills, problem based learning, OSCEs). The day in Primary Care remains one of the most highly evaluated learning activities by the students.

If you are interested in teaching on this innovative course, contact any of the Practice Development Tutors for more details:

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