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What preregistration trainees should do as they approach their 13-week appraisal

As the 13-week appraisal approaches, Talitha Orlandi, Kathryn Davison and Kathryn Moffitt give their perspectives on what to expect

By Talitha Orlandi, Kathryn Davison and Kathryn Moffitt

As the 13-week appraisal approaches, Talitha Orlandi, Kathryn Davison and Kathryn Moffitt give their perspectives on what to expect

Just as preregistration trainees begin to feel settled and comfortable in their new role they reach the first hurdle: 13-week appraisal. It may be the first time they have had an official appraisal of any kind, and this is often approached with apprehension. However, this appraisal is actually the first opportunity to receive formal constructive feedback from your preregistration tutor and gauge your current level of progress. This allows you to move on and plan ahead with a far more informed viewpoint, meaning you can approach the next 13 weeks with real focus and clear objectives.

Improvement and progression are all that matters

Kathryn Davison

I usually approach the first appraisal with a relatively relaxed attitude. It often takes this long for trainees to have acclimatised to their role within the pharmacy team and so I aim to be as supportive and encouraging towards my trainees as possible. In recent years, I have had trainees who have achieved a large number of performance standards at this early stage and some who have achieved few. As such, I enter the appraisal with few expectations as to where a trainee should be at this point. Every trainee is different and so, as long as I witness improvement and progression from when the trainee joined the team, my feedback at this stage will be positive. 

My preparation for the first appraisal tends to involve a scan of the performance standards with the view to highlighting exactly which of those I am confident the trainee has achieved. I will usually use this to guide the conversation I have with my trainee and aim to match up my rough list to the trainee’s completed competency statements. It is often the case that my list of achievements mirrors that of the trainee’s with only a few discrepancies left open for discussion.

However, there are occasions when a trainee will believe that he or she has achieved more competencies than I am willing to sign off. It is important to realise that this appraisal is at an early stage in the preregistration year and, although you as a trainee may have evidence that you have achieved a performance standard, it may be that your tutor requires further evidence that you have met this performance before signing it off as complete. This does not mean you are not on your way to achieving this standard, but rather that you need to prove further competence before it has been fully completed.
My advice for trainees about to have their first appraisal includes:

• Prepare a list of performance standards that you believe you have achieved to date and take along your completed evidence portfolio to support this list.
• Do not feel disappointed if your list does not match with the views of your tutor. This is the ideal opportunity to discuss the reasons for this and reassess your own progress.
• Since this is the first appraisal of the year do not expect too much of yourself. You may be well on the way to achieving many performance standards but may not necessarily have demonstrated full competence in them yet. You often find that at the second appraisal many of these will be achieved and signed off.
• Be open to criticism. Your tutor will give you feedback that you should take on board and respond to in a positive manner. Use the criticism constructively to set yourself new SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) objectives that you hope to achieve in the 13 weeks ahead.
• Maintain a professional attitude and discuss any differences of opinion with a mature demeanour. Your tutor can only respond positively towards you if you adopt such an approach.

Plan where and when you can achieve standards

Talitha Orlandi

Aside from feeling slightly nervous, I am, surprisingly, looking forward to my first appraisal. I hope it will give me an idea as to where I am on the road to completion of my preregistration year. Because my placement is split between community and academia, I feel the need to push myself that little bit harder and explore areas within academia where I can accomplish a proportion of the standards, as well as use my time in the pharmacy more effectively.
There are 76 standards that trainees aim to achieve as soon as possible. So how am I planning to do this?

My current strategy involves planning where and when I can achieve these standards. I have currently identified standards that can be applied to both academia and community, for example, “B2.9: use your knowledge and skills effectively when helping others learn”. In order to do this, before starting each week I write SMART objectives covering three or four performance standards and how I can achieve these during the coming week. This number has not always been achievable because, in certain circumstances, there may not be time or I may not have the resources, but I can always carry these forward to a time when it may be more attainable.

In order to record the evidence for each standard, I created a template (there are various templates available, for example see this one), which clearly defines what evidence I have gathered, the details around what I have done, a witness signature for confirmation and what standards I think this evidence correlates with. I realise this may sound time consuming and tedious but one piece of evidence can cover a number of standards. I also carry a diary each day which allows me to keep a brief record of any achievements that I may not have the time to enter into my log. I can then record them later when I have more time.
How many standards have I achieved? Because I am only 13 weeks into my training, I am remaining realistic and know I have a long way to go. My aim is to achieve an equal number at each appraisal so that, by my final appraisal, I am not overloaded with standards still to be completed, meaning I can focus on the registration assessment. Fingers crossed it all goes well.

Keep a positive attitude and a professional focus

Kathryn Moffitt

As a pharmacy manager my role has always involved some degree of staff appraisals. However, I view conducting my first 13-week progress review as a new experience.

Over the past 13 weeks I have endeavoured to become comfortable with the performance standards and made notes reflecting my trainee’s demonstration of many of them.

I believe a good place to start the meeting is to allow the trainee to lead the discussion and evaluate his or her own working practices.

This is how I will begin Talitha’s appraisal, which will allow her the opportunity to present her evidence and input that she thinks meet specific performance standards. I believe it is important to comment positively on a trainee’s achievements to date before discussing areas for development. By keeping my feedback constructive, I plan to suggest objectives for improvements and highlight how current competencies can be expanded to achieve more standards over the next 13 weeks.

Much of my own preregistration training now seems a distant memory, but I do remember feeling totally unprepared for my first progress report. My tutor was supportive and encouraging and seemed to be completely aware that this was the first formal appraisal I had experienced. This is what I hope to bring to Talitha’s appraisal. 

The first 13 weeks of any trainee are often spent becoming comfortable in a new working environment, mastering standard operating procedures and developing a rapport with the pharmacy team. Therefore, feedback during this review may well be mostly developmental.

Most tutors will appreciate your feedback as wellBecause this is my first year as a preregistration tutor, I also plan to request feedback from my trainee on how she thinks her training is progressing. Offering such information to your tutor is not solely relevant to first time tutors. Every trainee is different and taking the time to consider the needs and views of each individual helps to tailor training needs in order to improve performance. So do not think that you cannot offer feedback to your tutor. Most will appreciate your input and, if you have valid points, you and your tutor can look to address these. This will allow you to gain the most beneficial experience from your training year. 

However many standards you achieve at this first hurdle, remember that this is only the first appraisal of the year and indeed your future career. Use the experience to your advantage by keeping a positive attitude and a professional focus.

Kathryn Davison, MRPharmS, and Kathryn Moffitt are preregistration tutors and Talitha Orlandi is a preregistration trainee

Citation: Tomorrow's Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11129258

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  • The 13-week appraisal allows you to receive formal constructive feedback from your tutor

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