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Mind the (support) gap: supporting academic trainees through peer networks

Abstract

Academic Foundation Programme (AFP) trainees face challenges in making the most of the research opportunities available to them. Improved support for trainees throughout the AFP may result in improved outcomes and increase retention of clinical academic trainees. Peer support may address some of the challenges faced by AFP trainees at this early stage of their careers. A Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) approach was used to design and implement a peer support programme for AFP trainees in paediatrics. Feedback from recent AFP graduates was used to identify challenges and possible solutions, which were then incorporated into the programme. Trainee views informed the format of the support offered, especially the role of trainee coordinator and importance of regular meetings. The PDSA approach facilitated constant re-evaluation of the programme, which continued to evolve over several years. Peer support is highly valued by AFP trainees, who use the network to obtain information, as well as concrete assistance, and emotional support from their peers. Such networks are not self-perpetuating, and a significant commitment is required from fellow trainees to ensure the success of the network.

  • quality improvement
  • academic
  • medical education
  • health services research
  • paediatric staffing
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