The preregistration 26-week appraisal: time to raise your game
Kathryn Davison and Talitha Orlandi provide advice on how you should prepare for your 26-week appraisal — and explain how they will approach theirs
Reaching the halfway point of your preregistration year brings a sense of accomplishment in that you are only six months away from registration as a pharmacist. You might also be nervous that there are only six months left to achieve the performance standards while studying for the registration assessment. It is at this point that most tutors will expect to see their trainees start to raise their game and this, indeed, should be your next goal.
The settling-in period is over. You should now be confident with the general day-to-day practice of your role and should have started to use and further develop your counselling, communication and leadership skills. This is applicable regardless of your area of practice because whether you work in community, hospital, industry or academia, the skill set you acquire must be transferrable across sectors.
The 26-week appraisal is a good time for you to reflect on your progress so far, and to assess what you have achieved and what still lies ahead. The aim from day one was always to achieve at least half your performance standards at this point. If you have achieved this or greater then you are well on the way to progressing successfully through the training year. If this is not the case, then all is not lost. It may be that you are not where you had hoped. However, the initial slope of the year-long learning curve is less steep now because most of your daily duties should become second nature, allowing you to concentrate on fulfilling tasks that will help you meet those remaining standards.
It is around this point that you often find you are able to meet large numbers of standards at once as your confidence grows and the situations you are able to handle become more complex. Meeting a performance such as “dealing with conflict” is extremely difficult in the early stages of your training since you are unlikely to possess the confidence to handle patients or colleagues in an effective manner.
The 26-week appraisal is often easier for trainees than the first . You will, hopefully, have developed a good rapport with your tutor and colleagues, which will also put you at ease with such situations. Your tutor will not only be assessing what standards you have achieved and what you still must achieve, but also how he or she can help you accomplish them over the next six months.
Looking over your initial training plan is a good way to establish where you currently are with regard to the original strategy. If there are areas that you should have covered at this point but have not (as is often the case), then you and your tutor should reformulate the original plan to allow for them to be addressed in the near future. A classic example of this is the cross-sector placement. It may not have been possible to organise the placement at the time originally planned, meaning many of the standards you hoped to meet while undertaking the placement remain incomplete. This simply means that time scales have shifted and not that opportunities have been missed.
However, if it is the case that something that was originally planned can no longer happen, now is the time to address that and put in place new agendas that will allow you to reach your goals.
This stage of the year is also a good time to undertake a mock examination. Remember that the performance standards are only half of the criteria you must meet as a trainee and the registration assessment, which was once in the distant future, is getting close. Most trainees will attempt revision questions and sample calculations on a regular basis, which is always beneficial. However, a full- or half-size open and closed book test, taken under examination conditions, is a good way of evaluating your current knowledge (remembering you need to achieve a 70 per cent or more overall grade, including 70 per cent or more in the calculation section).
Attempting the mock test without any preparation is also a good method of judging the amount of study you will need to undertake over the coming months. If you are falling below the 60 per cent mark, you still have sufficient time to increase the number of hours you commit to studying in order to ensure success in the assessment. If you score above 60 per cent at this stage then achieving above 70 per cent or more in the actual assessment should be straightforward.
A tutor’s expectations at the second appraisal
Atthis appraisal I expect my trainee to have evidence of meeting many of what I refer to as “the more complex standards”. This will include them having completed, or be in the process of completing an audit, constructing a patient medication history, maintaining continuing professional development records as evidence of their learning and development outcomes, and completing an emergency first aid course.
Theircompletion of these more complex standards allows me to concentrate on setting new objectives which focus on making the transition from traineeto pharmacist. This entails helping the trainee to develop management and professional skills such as giving constructive feedback to colleagues, helping others learn and behaving in a manner which instils confidence. As always, the number of standards I sign off as complete will be determined by how advanced the trainee was at the start of the year but, regardless of this, my expectations of my trainee at this point are, of course, far greater than at the 13-week appraisal.
Iusually find this a good time to give my trainee a pep talk and remind them not to become complacent or too comfortable as a “dispensary assistant”. It is important to remember the need to improve continuouslyin order to gain the respect of the pharmacy team. Over the next 13 weeks, I would hope to see other staff members begin to ask the trainee for help and advice, which is a role reversal from when the trainee started. This can be more difficult than it may sound, so focusing on making that transition at this point will, hopefully, allow sufficient time to develop those interpersonal skills further. Whatever achievements have been accomplished at this stage, it is an important time to reflect on progress and re-evaluate the road ahead.
A preregistration trainee’s perspective
I am sure that no preregistration trainee looks forward to another appraisal. However, I have to admit I am more confident going into this 26-week appraisal for avariety of reasons. First, I am more familiar with what to expect than before and, secondly, I am now more aware of how to prepare to complete the necessary performance standards. I was pleased with the number of performance standards I achieved at my first appraisal and, since then, Ihave continued to use a template to record my pieces of evidence.
Isee the 26-week appraisal as a building block from the first appraisal,where I received both positive and negative feedback from my tutor to take on board. I have focused on collating evidence covering the areas that were identified last time as needing more “proof” in order to be signed off. I have tried to maximise and explore situations in order to achieve the more complex performance standards at this point.
I think that a split academia-community training placement has presented me with additional opportunities to achieve many of the complex standards. For example, on a typical day in academia I can produce evidence to support standard B2.8 (“Supervise others in an appropriate manner to ensure that agreed outcomes are achieved”) whereas, in the pharmacy, I will focus more on achieving standards that simply cannot bemet in academia, such as C1.6 (“Assemble the prescription correctly”). It is important I keep this balance between the two sectors and continuewith my agreed plan since it gives structure and organisation to my training year.
Although focusing on achieving performance standards is imperative, I also believe that it is important to identifywith the role of the pharmacist because, in a few months (hopefully), Iwill become one.
Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11133448
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