Skip to content
supervision fatigue
How to overcome supervision fatigue

If you are a doctor finding it difficult to juggle all of your responsibilities, you could be suffering supervision fatigue.

This applies to doctors managing Non Vocationally Registered (Non-VR) GPs or IMGs (International Medical Graduate) as they find their feet in the Australian healthcare system, as well as the supervision of medical students and registrars.

Supervision fatigue occurs when the process of supervising seems to become overwhelming.

Non-VR GPs offer a great deal to Australian healthcare and the clinics where they work as learn the ropes.

But in their first three months at a clinic, they need guidance from a supervising GP working identical hours.

That level of supervision then reduces by 20 per cent every three months until such time as they have passed their AMC clinical exam and applied for general registration.

It can be a valuable and rewarding journey for both supervising doctor and the Non-VR GP, registrar or student but it does require some careful preparation and management to run smoothly.

Being a great doctor isn’t always just about treating patients.

Tips for supervising doctors to avoid supervision fatigue

Time management

Level 1 supervision demands the supervising doctor works identical hours as their Non-VR GP.

Needless to say, time management is critical.

Because you will constantly be on call whenever your Non-VR GP is consulting, it is important not to overload your schedule.

Attempting to see the same number of patients while being responsible for another doctor will inevitably create unnecessary stress.

Identify and prioritise tasks based on importance and use time management techniques to maximise productivity.

Set realistic expectations

Set clear and realistic goals for you and the doctor, student or registrar you are supervising.

Communicate effectively with them so they understand the time challenges and limitations of resources that exist.

This will help ensure they don’t put more pressure on you than is necessary.

Keep lines of communication open

Effective communication with your Non-VR GP, student or registrar is of the utmost importance.

Unsaid is usually unknown, so it is paramount to share your feedback, thoughts and experiences with each other so you both benefit to the maximum.

Remember, communication is a two-way street. 

Listen carefully to the needs of your protege so they get the most out of the process.

Delegate effectively 

The responsibility of the Non-VR GP, student or registrar is yours but you are supervising them for the benefit of the practice.

It’s a team game so don’t be afraid to delegate responsibility where appropriate. 

You shouldn’t have to do everything yourself.

Empower those around you to lighten your load where possible, based on their skills and capabilities.

Recognise and appreciate their efforts as they strive to ease your burden. 

Promote work-life balance

Working together with a Non-VR GP, student or registrar in a supervisory role will be challenging for both of you.

So it’s important not to take on too much at once.

Try to organise a schedule that you are both comfortable working.

Discuss whether shorter shifts over six days a week will benefit you both.

Or maybe longer shifts over four days is preferable, so freeing up an extra day off in the week.

Use your down time wisely to refresh and recharge.

Consider stress reduction techniques

It might be time to practice what you preach.

Consider the benefits of stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness or yoga to promote wellbeing.

Depending on your relationship, this may be something you choose to do in tandem with your Non-VR GP, student or registrar.

Or you may prefer the solitude of your own quiet space, away from the practice.

Take regular breaks throughout the day and find a comfortable space for relaxation.

Employ coping mechanisms

If things are starting to get on top of both of you, it might be time to adopt other strategies for dealing with your stress.

Talk to the practice manager or head clinician about your concerns. 

Counselling services may be of benefit.

You should adopt regular exercise, both during your working day and outside of hours.

A brisk walk at lunch time can do wonders.

Stick to a healthy diet, try to get plenty of sleep and avoid excessive use of stimulants such as alcohol.

Regular self-assessment

Regularly assess your own stress levels and don’t be afraid to seek support when needed.

Be attentive to and proactive in identifying signs of supervision fatigue and burnout and take as many of the above steps as necessary to prevent it.

Seek external support

Seek further support from anyone who you think may be able to offer it to you – colleagues, mentors or any other external resource available.

When your supervising role ends, consider signing up for a leadership development program.

It can help you become more comfortable with and adept at handling the responsibilities that come with supervising young doctors in the future.

Contact Health Recruitment Australia today

Spending time working under the supervision of an established GP is part of the process of becoming a fully-fledged doctor in Australia.

It’s a process that normally runs very smoothly.

If you are a young GP hoping to work in Australia, Health Recruitment Australia can help make your journey a smooth one.

HRA is a recruitment agency set up specifically to match overseas and local doctors with the right clinics in Australia.

We’ll place you in a practice that is the ideal fit, in a city or region you’ll just love.

And that’s just the start of it.

We’ll answer all of your queries and questions and even fill out all that annoying paperwork for you as well.

There’s a significant GP shortage in Australia right now, opening up multiple opportunities for doctors just like you so take some positive action today!

Why not start with an informal, no-obligation discussion with the experienced team at Health Recruitment Australia? Contact us.

Enquire now, and we’ll be
in touch shortly!


Enquire now, and we’ll be
in touch shortly!