When one considers the vast breadth of general practice content, it is a daunting prospect for the GP registrar to consider ‘What do I need to learn?’ (and for the GP Supervisor, ‘What do I need to teach?’). Each registrar undertaking GP training comes with a completely different clinical and educational background, and consequently no two registrars have the same learning needs. While learning is ultimately the responsibility of the registrar, the GP Supervisor has an important role to play in helping the registrar identify, clarify, prioritise and address their learning needs for general practice training.
Learning needs identification is the process of using tools and methods to identify the learning needs of the registrar, both known and unknown. It is commonly observed that identified registrar learning needs are primarily (or exclusively) clinical, and the other domains of practice are not considered, or overlooked. These include areas such as professionalism, communication skills, and organisational skills. GPSA resources seek to cover all aspects of learning and the identification of learning needs in registrars.
Teaching in a general practice setting as part of vocational training comprises two distinct but overlapping approaches – ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ teaching.
Informal teaching (also known as corridor or ad hoc teaching) is usually brief, unplanned, and opportunistic, and occurs in response to the registrar seeking assistance during the patient encounter.
Formal teaching is the dedicated, quarantined, structured form of teaching. There are a wide range of possible teaching methods that the GP supervisor can employ as part of practice-based teaching. Ideally, supervisors should use a diversity of methods to make the teaching experience engaging and rewarding. The specific method should be matched to the content and registrar learning needs. Feedback is at the heart of effective teaching and clinical supervision.