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In the Hot Seat:
Dr Ben Brown

In the hot seatWould you like to have some say in shaping future GP training? The AiT Committee can help you do just that. Charlotte Hudson finds out more

There are 10,000 associates in training (AiTs) in the UK, translating to a quarter of the rCGP membership. Dr Brown has an important job to make sure that all members are represented effectively. One way is by representing AiTs in all major departments on the RCGP Council.

In November last year the Chair and vice Chair of the Committee were given voting rights, meaning they are now allowed to vote on the various aspects of policy. “Not all other royal Colleges extend this responsibility to their trainees – so it’s quite a big deal,” explains Dr Brown. “I think it’s a testament to the College itself, that senior officers really value the trainee voice and input.”

Since the National AiT Committee was founded in 2007, it has helped to shape many areas of the RCGP by providing ideas, suggestions and plans from a trainee point of view. As a result of this work the MRCGP is a very different assessment.1

The AiT Committee also sit on other major committees and discuss topics including the curriculum, examinations and ethics. Externally they represent the College by sitting on committees, such as the BMA GP Trainees Subcommittee and the Academy of Royal Colleges Committee. Dr Brown’s predecessor was invited by RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada to give evidence at parliament when the health and Social Care Bill was going through.

The RCGP have new offices at 30 Euston Square, which Dr Brown is keen to tell us about: “The new offices hold a Knowledge Resource Centre where members can visit and there is also a new examinations department. In line with this new department, the CSA is going paperless. Instead, iPads will be used, making the exam more life like than ever by using computer-based notes instead of paper. I would encourage all trainees to go and have a look around the new building and its facilities – they’re really impressive.”

Dr Brown moves on to talk about the enhanced GP training bid that was approved by Medical Education England in September 2012. GP training is currently three years, making it the shortest training for GPs in Europe. In the coming years, this should be extended to four years and there are going to be some added changes, which will improve the robustness and quality of GP training, better equipping GPs for the future, he says.

“One of the aims of enhanced GP training is to provide more exposure to GP trainees in specific areas. The training will involve more time in general practice, which should equate to two years over the four-year training. In the fourth year we are looking at innovative ways to develop leadership skills and help GPs implement service improvement projects.

Getting involved with the AiT Committee is a real way to effect positive change for GP trainees on a national level

“Getting involved with the AiT Committee is a real way to effect positive change for GP trainees on a national level. From a personal development point of view you find out how general practice, the College and the wider health system works, and you will learn how to manage yourself and a team,” says Dr Brown. Elections to become an AiT representative are held regionally and will next take place in November. The term of office on the Committee is currently one year, which Dr Brown felt was too short, so will be extended to two years from November.

“If you want to get involved you should put yourself forward for the elections for the new committee, otherwise you could wait up to two years to get involved again,” he explains. The Committee also has a scheme where any trainees in the UK can come and observe one of their meetings, and if you want to get involved locally with what your rep is doing then you can also contact them through their website.

Dr Brown's top tips for GP trainees:

  • Be comfortable and confident with your clinical knowledge
  • Get involved in non-clinical activities
  • Stay on top of your e-portfolio

Follow Dr Brown on Twitter, where he tweets about medicine along with non-clinical things (to keep his non-medical followers happy): @BenjaminCBrown

References
  1. RCGP website, AiT Committee, accessed 5 February
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