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becoming a GP supervisor
How to become a GP supervisor

Becoming a GP supervisor can be a great career move.

It is the ideal way to broaden your horizons as a doctor, gain experience as an educator and boost your income.

The role is also a vital one in the healthcare system, helping to develop skilled and reliable GPs for the next generation.

It therefore comes with a great deal of responsibility.

And it is not just a matter of deciding to become one – first you need to gain accreditation.

Becoming a GP supervisor is a recognised special interest for doctors in the same way as men’s health, paediatrics or chronic disease management.

Specifically, the role is known as Supervisor Professional Development (SPD) and time spent in this vocation goes towards a GP’s annual requirement of 50 hours per year in Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Here’s how to go about it and the skills you will need to develop to make a success of it.

Becoming accredited

New supervisors in both the FSP (Fellowship Support Program) and the AGPT (Australian General Practice Training) must complete the Foundations of GP Supervision Program Modules.

These modules are available via a combination of online learning, webinar and workshop attendance.

GP supervisors must complete the first seven modules to become fully accredited.

An optional eighth module allows for further development of skills for AGPT supervisors.

Components of supervision

A GP supervisor needs to consider three components of supervision. They are:

Clinical – Ensuring the patients’ needs are adequately met by the registrar, maintaining safety and duties of care at all times.

Educational – Developing the registrar’s knowledge base and skills set. Formulating a plan to measure if the registrar is actually learning on the job.

Personal – Developing the registrar’s personal skills as a GP, including how they interact with patients, listening closely, communicating concisely and effectively and showing care and empathy.

Effectiveness of a GP supervisor

GP supervision lies at the very core of the development of junior doctors in general practice.

Because these junior doctors tend to have a great deal of autonomy, patient safety is critical at all times.

This puts great responsibility on the GP supervisor to be effective in their role – observing and guiding the registrar while prioritising the welfare of patients.

The effectiveness of a GP supervisor can be measured by the following:

Accessibility –  supervisors should be available at all times, potentially after hours if a registrar has any questions or concerns.

Approachability – be friendly and approachable rather than aloof or intimidating. It will help gain the registrar’s trust and promote a better relationship between supervisor and registrar.

Supportiveness – foster an atmosphere where registrars feel comfortable asking questions and admitting to mistakes. Encourage open communication, allowing them to seek clarification where needed or to discuss recent experiences.

Clinical skills – it goes without saying a GP supervisor must be accomplished in their own right. This includes keeping abreast of the latest medical advancements and sharing relevant updates and resources with their subjects.

Communication and teaching skills – some people can be good communicators without being good teachers. Develop your teaching skills, facilitating active rather than passive learning. That is, ensure your registrar is ‘doing’ on the job, rather than just watching.

Other key attributes of a good GP supervisor

There are many other key attributes that go towards becoming a successful GP supervisor.

These include:

Honesty – provide regular feedback at all times, whether it be positive or constructive. It helps registrars understand their strengths and areas where they need to improve. Feedback should be specific, actionable and timely.

Leadership – lead by example, understanding that respect is always earned rather than a given. Demonstrate professionalism, empathy and excellent patient care at all times. Your behaviour sets the standard for those who follow you.

Encourage autonomy – allow your registrar to take on increasing levels of autonomy under your tutorship as they gain experience and confidence. Encourage them to make decisions independently while knowing that you are there to support them when needed.

Set clear expectations – clearly outline your expectations regarding clinical responsibilities, personal behaviour and learning objectives. Provide them with a basic framework for their learning journey with achievable milestones along the way.

Facilitate learning opportunities and development – Encourage participation in a variety of educational activities. These may include engaging in recent case discussions, attending medical conferences, pursuing additional certifications or undertaking research projects.

Promote self-reflection – encourage registrars to think about their clinical experiences, patient interactions and personal development. Help them to identify areas for potential growth and strategies for improvement.

Respect diversity and inclusion  – expose your registrar to a variety of clinical experiences with different patient demographics. Foster an inclusive environment that respects differences in background, culture, beliefs and perspectives among patients and colleagues.

Seek feedback – be open to receiving feedback from your registrars as well as senior colleagues regarding your teaching style, communication skills, effectiveness and areas for improvement.

Reach out – working as a GP supervisor can be extremely complex, demanding and stressful for many reasons. Sometimes, the supervisor may struggle to be effective in their role. The registrar may be guilty of disruptive or inappropriate behaviour. And sometimes, the two of you just don’t click.

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if needed, be it for your own mental health or the successful development of the registrar.

Contact Health Recruitment Australia today

Working as a GP supervisor is a noble and worthy vocation and a vital one in the Australian healthcare landscape.

But it does not come without its challenges.

If it is a role that interests you, Health Recruitment Australia (HRA) can help.

HRA is a dedicated recruitment agency that connects doctors of all ages with hiring clinics in Australia.

We always have multiple opportunities on our books for GPs seeking work right around the country.

Whether you are specifically seeking to work as a GP supervisor or simply in general practice, HRA can help you realise your life-changing career goals and dreams.

We will work closely with you to find the ideal practice in the city or region that suits your desired lifestyle.

If you are looking to emigrate to Australia, we’ll answer all of your questions, taking all the stress out of the move.

Let us do the heavy lifting and find you your dream job 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!