Primary Health Care Supervisor Workshop
Supervisors as facilitators of learning
Every second year, the Primary Health Care Institute (PHCI) invites all supervisors across Primary Medical Centres to a workshop in Sydney. The PHCI also conducts annual Registrar workshops. This year marked the first time where the two were run on consecutive days to allow for a combined dinner.
The Supervisor Workshop was the first off the rank on Thursday, 8 February 2018. With a room filled with around 50 GPs whose combined years in practice would be greater than we could count, it was exciting to see the mantra of the day unfold – that supervisors are facilitators not teachers. Across multiple sessions on the day, a variety of speakers re-iterated this important message in many ways.
Dr Fadi Abouzeid, GP and supervisor for many years at Primary Health Care’s Campsie Medical Centre gave some great insight to his fellow supervisors on how to understand the relationship with a registrar. “None of us will consider ourselves experts”, he said. “We all know that being a GP means a lifelong journey of learning. Don’t believe you need to know everything to be able to be a supervisor. It is not about being able to answer every clinical question they may throw at you. In fact, I don’t answer their questions. I probe them with more questions. Then I send them off to do their own research on the topic and we will come together and talk about the issue. Your job as a supervisor is to facilitate their learning. Not to teach them everything you know.”
Fadi continued his session on the importance to impart the knowledge of good practice into the registrars. This is where the experience of GPs becomes vital. Fadi called them the four pillars of being a GP:
- Good communication skills
- Caring for your patient
Providing guidance to a registrar in these areas will help them to be the best GPs they can be.
Dr Mark Miller, Censor in Chief at the RACGP continued the notion of supervisor as facilitator in his session about the future in GP training. In his presentation, one of the first slides quoted Einstein stating “Not everything that can be counted counts – and not everything that counts can be counted.” While he shared his vision for the future of GP training to evolve into a more continuing training rather than a fixed, he also stressed the point that it is not the individual diseases that are important to teach to a registrar – it is the patient care. Learning should start with the first day of being a registrar and it will continue long past exam day. The supervisor is there to guide the registrar on that journey.
Dr Shirly Fung, Clinical Education and Program Design Manger at the PHCI then provided a session on ‘What you have always wanted to know about being a supervisor’. Her opening comments asked all participants to think about a memorable learning experience they had. And to remember what made this moment memorable. Often it is the learning opportunities where we are able to successfully come to a solution ourselves which are the most memorable and rewarding ones. Providing the guidance needed to get to this solution is what will make a supervisor a great facilitator of learning.
This notion of facilitating learning resonated well with the attendees at the event. When speaking to a few of them during the breaks, it was clear that most of them agreed that it was the ‘soft’ skills that were often more important to share than the knowledge of conditions and treatments. Good communication skills with the aim to impart trust for the patient was mentioned by one GP on the day. “It is not just what to say, it is how to say it”, she said, speaking from a wealth of experience having practiced as a GP for 32 years and having been a cancer patient herself.
The workshop also provided a unique opportunity of networking for supervisors. It allowed the GPs to share knowledge, experiences and to understand what support the PHCI provides to them and registrars alike. It was great so see many familiar faces as well as a large number of new faces. We are excited to see the registrar program grow from year to year and to see so many GPs willing to take on a new challenge.