10% of 50,000 doctors in postgraduate training programmes in England are taking approved time out of training at any time . The NHS People Plan  aims to welcome back colleagues who want to return, which can be a stressful experience for trainees. It is our duty as educators to provide support. Health Education England offer SuppoRTT funding to create opportunities for trainee development. Despite regional courses, returning trainees felt their individual needs were not met. We aimed to provide additional, bespoke 1:1 training within a psychologically safe environment to paediatric trainees in our hospital before their return to training.
Trainee participants had email and phone correspondence with a consultant paediatrician prior to their return date. A half-day bespoke simulation course was co-designed with the participant at a mutually convenient date. Teaching was delivered by a consultant or senior registrar trained in simulation and debriefing. The bespoke course included a variety of activities to meet personal goals, including basic procedures, scenarios in the simulation centre, and if ready, a short in-situ simulation with multidisciplinary staff (if available). In addition, trainees were signposted to existing courses and resources. The simulation centre also offered support to the Educational Supervisor in completing SuppoRTT Funding applications. Afterwards, returning trainees were asked to provide feedback via email. This experience has led us to develop a framework for future learners from different specialities and the wider multidisciplinary team; the CUSTOM framework, Creating Unique Support for Trainees and Others with the Multidisciplinary team.
In three years, we provided bespoke training to six paediatric doctors, four of whom were returning after maternity leave and two from research. Five trainees had bespoke sessions, one trainee chose to attend a simulation course with additional support and feedback rather than requesting an individualised course which would have had to be created. Themes from feedback included a positive learning environment, appreciation for bespoke training opportunities, increasing trainee confidence and appreciation for general support (Table 1). One trainee who returned after their second maternity leave said ‘it was noticeable how much quicker I returned to feeling comfortable after this second leave.’
Our bespoke courses were successful and well received by paediatric trainees. We are launching a new framework, CUSTOM, Creating Unique Support for Trainees and Others with the Multidisciplinary Team. CUSTOM will support other departments to offer bespoke courses. Going forward, we aspire to expand this support to returners from the multidisciplinary team.
1. Health Education England. SuppoRTT. Health Education England. 2022. https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/supporting-doctors-returning-training-after-time-out [Accessed on 19/06/2022]
2. NHS England. NHS England NHS People Plan. England.nhs.uk. 2022. https://www.england.nhs.uk/ournhspeople/ [Accessed on 19/06/2022]