All doctors in the UK should have an appraisal every year which is part of the revalidation process and requirement to maintain the GMC license to practice.
New IMGs can often get confused with this and are often unaware of the process. IMG on non-training posts often does not get proper guidance or information. This blog aims to explain some basics concepts around medical appraisal.
For the junior doctors in the training posts, their ARCP acts as an appraisal and they don’t need a separate appraisal.
What is Medical Appraisal?
You can consider it an annual review of clinical practice and GMC set it out to be a facilitated self-review of your work and scope of work. It is supported by information gathered on the full scope of a doctor’s work. The medical appraisal can be used for four purposes according to the GMC:
- To enable doctors to discuss their practice and performance with their appraiser in order to demonstrate that they continue to meet the principles and values set out in `Good Medical Practice` and thus to inform the responsible officer’s revalidation recommendation to the GMC.
- To enable doctors to enhance the quality of their professional work by planning their professional development.
- To enable doctors to consider their own needs in planning their professional development.
and may also be used
- 4. To enable doctors to ensure that they are working productively and in line with the priorities and requirements of the organisation they practise in.
What does an Appraisal involve?
It is a meeting within a protected time where you sit with a trained colleague who is often a senior doctor in most cases. The appraiser is usually not your line manager but someone independent. The meeting could last for 1-3 hours depending on how it went and how many details were discussed.
You will have the information recorded on one of the online systems to discuss with the appraiser.
What information you need to have or record:
Usually, you need an online account on the appraisal information recording system provided by the NHS trust.
- A personal development plan
- Information on the scope of your practice and job plan
- Your activities in the last 12 months which may include educational, clinical and professional engagements
- Reflection on any complain or serious incidents.
Different systems are used in the UK to record this information. In Wales, the MARS Appraisal website is used to record both GP and hospital doctors.
What do I put in my appraisal information?
Usually, my appraisal information will include:
- Personal development plan for the next 12 months, also discussion around what i have achieved in the last 12 months from the last year personal development plan.
- Scope of practice, and weekly job plan.
- Reflections which include constraints and limitations of the job.
- CPD activities which may include courses, training and conferences along with reflection of what I learnt.
- Academic activities, including teaching, examining, and arranging educational events, research and audits.
- Personal development and other professional activities like having a responsibility of clinical + educational supervision, chairing a particular group.
- Experience of any leadership and management activities.
- Confidential feedback from patients and colleagues required once every 5 years and collected via an online system.
- Any complains and serious incidents I was involved in along with reflection.
As a new IMG, you can make a personal development plan for example focused on your clinical and professional development. Your aim may be to pass certain exams, get CREST competencies and enter training which you can demonstrate in the appraisal.
How can a Medical appraisal help me as a junior doctor or an IMG?
- You are essentially collecting the similar information which you need to maintain portfolio. So you have evidence of your progress which is useful in future applications of training or non-training jobs.
- Appraisal is a reviewing process which helps you reflect on the last 12 months and your learning needs for the future. It will help you identify you learning needs so you can plan your professional development, improve performance, and demonstrate that you are fit to practice.
- You need regular and timely appraisals to pass the revalidation which is usually due for doctors every 5 years.
How do I select who does my Appraisal?
There is usually a list of trained appraisers who are available and a booking system online.
Your local NHS appraisal unit should be able to help you with this booking. The appraiser isn’t your supervisor and doesn’t need to be from the same specialty or department.
What usually happens in appraisal meeting?
It is usually a very friendly environment where you discuss your appraisal entries and reflections along with the future plans. It is a safe space to reflect and the appraiser may suggest to you some ideas on how you can improve and knowledge and performance for the next year.
Before Covid these meetings were happening face to face and since Covid different arrangements are in place.
Any tips to make it easier:
- Do not leave it to the last minute and try and understand how system work as soon as you start the job or find you feet in a job within a few months.
- Ask a colleague to show you how they put in the information and deal with the online system.
- Explore opportunities of personal development which may include training events, teaching opportunities, audits and management experience.
There is usually an appraisal and revalidation support unit in every trust and they can help you understand the process better.