Nurturing excellence

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Another blog from Nicki Kelly @nickik_

This week, I spent time with a group of fellow junior paediatricians and potential future medical leaders reflecting about the perceived negativity bias in medical training. Doctors are probably amongst the most competitive and ambitious people around, being high-flyers, not only in academic pursuits, but often having outstanding skill in other areas including sports and the creative arts. Being competitive can be a very useful trait encouraged in undergraduate training, spurring individuals on to achieving excellence and success.

Contrast this with doctors’ experience of formal postgraduate training processes, centred around portfolio, formative assessments and appraisal. To many trainee doctor’s dismay, the best possible accolade at annual appraisal is to be ‘satisfactory’, with many excellent individuals being labelled as ‘unsatisfactory’ due to administrative nuances and insufficient box ticking. How can a system that doesn’t recognise achievement and sets being ‘just good enough’ as a target, possibly inspire and motivate a generation of bright young doctors, the future of our NHS, to strive to be the best they can be?

For educationalists and those involved in administering training and appraisal, perhaps it is worth focusing more on trainees positive contributions in order to harness their competitive spirit and to nurture excellence for the future.

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