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New GP Trainee Rotation: 5 things you must consider

If you’re about to start your new rotation as an NHS GP trainee – whether in General Practice or hospital – this blog is for you!

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New GP Trainee Rotation: 5 things you must consider


The exact posts offered by Deaneries in their programmes vary, but you will be offered a complete programme that complies with the regulations set down by the GMC.

I remember the feeling before a new rotation very well from my own GP trainee days – often a mixture of anxiety and excitement. Having been through seven different rotations myself as a trainee, I would like to share five key things to think about before you start – to help maximise your experience as a GP trainee.

New GP Trainee Rotation: 5 things you must consider

Consider Your Weaknesses

The very first thing that I’d suggest is to note down your weaknesses and deficiencies in that particular field, for instance, Paediatrics or Mental Health. Then think about how the next 4-6 months can plug these gaps and help you get over them. 

During my ENT rotation as a GP trainee, I knew that I was terrible at examining ears using an otoscope – most of the time I couldn’t even see ear drums properly. The knowledge (and acceptance) of this weakness beforehand motivated me to come out more confident and upskilled by the end. Similarly, during my Paediatric rotation, I knew I was not used to holding, examining and interacting with babies – the main reason being that there weren’t any children in my family back then! However, with time I gradually became comfortable and better at handling young babies and newborns – something that happened much quicker as I accepted the deficiency early on and could put together a training programme to better increase my competency in that field. 

Before you start each rotation, make sure you consider your weakness – you’ll end up with much more from your job by the end (plus as a bonus you’re already beginning to form some PDP ideas which can be used as learning opportunities). MRCGP AKT or CSA is not usually far off – any headstart is crucial.

New GP Trainee Rotation: 5 things you must consider

Talk to Someone with Experience

Before you start, try and talk to other healthcare professionals who’ve already gained experience in that particular rotation – you might be surprised how their experiences and mistakes help put you in a better frame of mind when embarking on your own training programmes. I think back to my own ENT rotation – I missed the opportunity to do this, even though now I can think of many who did the rotation before me. I, therefore, had to learn it all by myself. You can read about a lot of things, but first-hand experience can often lead to some of the best and most practical tips, including what to avoid and how to make on-calls easier.

Leveraging others’ experiences within the given speciality can give you some invaluable knowledge for General Practice – whilst also making you feel slightly ahead and less intimidated at the start.

New GP Trainee Rotation: 5 things you must consider

Plan your Assessments

This is really important. Plan assessments as much as you can in advance – especially, workplace-based assessments such as CBDs, COTs or Mini-CEXs. Start with what do you need to have done by this stage of the training? Once you’ve planned the mandatory ones, think about the opportunistic ones. By planning in advance you can get the mandatory ones done early on, allowing you time to get ahead a little – rather than catching up in the last few weeks. Failure to plan properly can lead to huge stress before your rotation is about to end – supervisors on holiday, a string of busy on-calls, unexpected time off – all can lead to you ending the rotation with gaps. 

In addition to planning mandatory assessments, make sure you think of some that can be useful in this particular rotation – perhaps CEPS that would be easiest to get done in this job. 

I see too many GP trainees stress when assessments have been left too late. 5-10 minutes of planning early on can easily prevent this.

New GP Trainee Rotation: 5 things you must consider

Think About the Clinics You Want to Attend

Before you start a new rotation think about which clinics you’d like to attend in order to maximise your benefits as an NHS GP trainee. For example, when I went into Paediatrics, certain clinics were top of my list – Paediatric asthma clinic, Paediatric allergy clinic, Paediatric ENT clinic – things that I either lacked knowledge in or things that I knew would be important in GP-land. Had I not planned these beforehand – had I not made a list of these in advance – I would not have been able to discuss these with my educational supervisor early on (they arranged for me to leave the ward to attend these themself). Personally visiting these clinics helped me understand the way in which clinics interact with primary care, and I’m so glad I had the chance.

Remember you are there to learn and build up your competency, but so are many others as well. Making sure you make the most of the available opportunities means planning your needs early on – not once you get thrown into the business of the rotation.

New GP Trainee Rotation: 5 things you must consider

Plan Your Leave Well

One final piece of advice that is so often overlooked – please make sure you plan your leave well in advance for your rotation. If you know in advance when you’ll need annual leave, request it as early as possible – before you start if possible. Early requests make it much more likely that adjustments can be made. 

Think about your study leave in advance – the type of courses you want to undertake, the exams that are coming up and the number of courses you would like to attend. One of the worst feelings that I remember was wanting to attend a course that my other GPST colleagues were attending as a GPST1, applying for leave and having it rejected as someone else had applied for something else on the same day – just a week before I did.

Structured, timetabled leave may not be a part of every healthcare role that you have in the future – make sure that you don’t miss out in your GP training years before you’re a full-time GP where leave may not be so easy to come by.

So to summarise – five key things to think about before beginning your rotation as an NHS GP trainee:
✓ Consider your weaknesses
✓ Talk to those with experience
✓ Plan your assessments
✓Plan your clinics
✓Plan your leave

I wish I had someone to advise me of these during my own rotations – sadly I didn’t. Having read this there is no excuse for you not to get the most out of your rotations.

Suggested PDPs for GP Training Rotations​

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Author Bio — Dr Aman Arora

Hello and welcome to Arora Medical Education! I am a Portfolio GP with a 24/7/365 passion for helping you fly through your medical exams and maximise your career. You can find out more about me here.

I’ve been fortunate to teach over 50,000 doctors globally through a combination of face-to-face, online, audio and social teaching, helping them pass exams such as MRCGP AKT and RCAMSRA and PLAB.

Feel free to contact me with any thoughts, questions or ideas to help you reach your potential. I look forward to meeting you soon!

Author Bio — Dr Pooja Arora

Dr Pooja Arora is a GP with a background in Medical Politics, where she passionately focuses on improving the opportunities and working conditions for junior doctors. She is proud to hold FRCGP (Fellow of Royal College of General Practitioners).

You can find out more about Pooja’s previous roles and qualifications here.

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