7 Tips for an Easy Medical Appraisal
If you recently left training, you may be finding being your own rota-coordinator, educational supervisor, and wellbeing support manager a lot to juggle in addition to your usual clinical work.
While many doctors think that becoming an F3 means less admin, the truth is that often it means exactly the opposite.
An F3 Year is an incredible and unique opportunity for growth, exploration, and experimentation but unfortunately, many F3 doctors let themselves down by not considering their portfolio during their time out of training. By the end of their F3 Year they can feel unfulfilled and regretful that they did not make the most out of their time, or they feel overwhelmed and reluctantly return to training because they’re hopeless and exhausted.
Portfolios are tools for demonstrating your skills and expertise, as well as recording your accomplishments and contributions to your field. However, building and maintaining a comprehensive portfolio can be time-consuming, particularly if you are already stretched thin with other responsibilities.
Balancing your clinical work with your professional development requirements is a challenge we hope that we can offer some support with. We spent hours researching portfolios and appraisals (two major sources of confusion, stress, and time-consuming admin for non-training doctors) and created the Portfolio Companion - the ultimate resource for all things portfolio and appraisal.
In this blog, we will explain how a great F3 portfolio can make your appraisal easier and save you stress and time in the long run.
🌍 1. Unique F3 opportunities
As an F3, you have more control over your time and more flexibility in your choices. Hopefully, you are using your F3 Year to do some self-reflection and self-care, and to explore your passions and interests.
Using your portfolio to evidence the amazing things you do in your F3 Year can make your portfolio more unique and gives you a lot more to talk about in your appraisal.
🎯 2. Set yourself targets
Leading perfectly on from the last point; we strongly advocate for setting yourself an F3 Personal Development Plan (PDP).
Taking time at the start of F3 to consider what you want and need to achieve this year, can help you find direction and stay on track for your appraisal.
PDPs don’t have to be overambitious, but should help you meet your appraisal targets in good time so you never feel overwhelmed. You should be ending your F3 Year on a high, feeling like you got the most out of this incredible experience.
Having a list of your appraisal targets somewhere you can review them regularly ensures that everything you need is already to hand when it comes time for your appraisal. If you aren’t sure what your appraisal targets are, then this article will help you.
🥼 3. Understand the appraisal process
The appraisal process is not very complicated if you know a bit about it and have the right support (aka. Messly) to guide you through it.
Follow the steps laid out in this article and many of your initial worries will be resolved.
The steps show you how to:
👉 Find out who your appraiser is and book your appraisal meeting.
👉 Find out which appraisal process you will be following (based on your location).
👉 Open the appraisal document you will be using and start populating it with evidence.
We created the Portfolio Companion as a comprehensive guide to your medical portfolio, and to show you how each portfolio section links up with the MAG form (the appraisal document used in England). Explore the Portfolio Companion to familiarise yourself with the MAG form and understand the appraisal process better.
📚 4. Use tools
Use the resources that are free and available to you to create a portfolio and populate it with high-quality evidence that can be easily transferred to your appraisal document.
There are a number of free digital portfolio services but Dropbox works just as well if you are organised and are also keeping a physical portfolio (read more about the physical vs digital debate here).
Obviously, we highly recommend is our Portfolio Companion because it specifically links your portfolio evidence to the relevant section of the MAG. Knowing how your evidence will be presented in your appraisal can make the process of uploading it more streamlined and straightforward.
📄 5. Use templates
Linked to the above point is our advice to use templates when collecting your portfolio evidence. Templates are pre-designed forms and questionnaires for data collection. Some templates are GMC approved, so you should use these above others.
If you are going to collect evidence for your portfolio and appraisal, make sure that you are doing it in a format that is high-quality and transferable.
🩺 6. Contemporaneous
A great portfolio grows slowly and organically over time, not as a rush job every eleven months. Whenever you do learning, teaching, upskilling, case discussions, feedback, reflections, research, or change job roles, consider how the evidence of your work will be presented in your portfolio and appraisal.
Spending two minutes writing down your learning and reflections after any of the above can save you hours later when trying to remember the key messages from a workshop you attended eight months before.
To see how your evidence will look in your MAG appraisal document, check out the CPD section of the Portfolio Companion.
🗓 7. Establish a routine
Schedule yourself one day every two or three months to review your portfolio and appraisal requirements and see whether you are on track to meet your targets for the year.
This is also a great time to print physical copies of any evidence you have collected or batch print templates and surveys so they’re to hand in your work bag should an opportunity arise for feedback or a WBA. If you don't have a printer at home, we recommend www.doxdirect.com which can print documents for you and send them straight to your house.
Regularly checking in with your portfolio and PDP means that you will not only have more, high-quality evidence when it comes time for your appraisal, but your evidence will better represent your whole year rather than simply the last few weeks before your appraisal is due.
💡 In Summary:
F3 Years are unique opportunities to take your career in whatever direction interests you most. Maintaining a portfolio as an F3 is a great idea because it helps show your uniqueness and makes you stand out from the crowd, and helps you pass your appraisal easily.
A portfolio created with appraisal and revalidation in mind means you are:
👉 Collecting high-quality evidence
👉 In the right format
👉 In a timely manner
👉 That can be uploaded easily to your appraisal document
Appraisals for F3s can be very stressful if you don’t know what you are doing and try to do it all last minute. Many tools and resources are available to help your portfolio and appraisal work seamlessly together and minimise your workload overall.
Reviewing your portfolio can help you meet your appraisal goals successfully and in a timely manner.
This article is part of a wider series of resources designed to support doctors through the process of building great portfolios. The heart of this is Messly’s Portfolio Companion, which is a detailed set of guides, templates and tools to help you build and manage your portfolio with confidence. For other articles and discussion on the topic, click here.