Nurturing future academics and leaders: extended integrated training posts in general practice

Authors: Hannah Marshall, Hugh Alberti, Sarah Cope, Graham Rutt 

Publication date:  01 Mar 2017


Letting trainees split their time between general practice and another specialty can encourage recruitment, say Hannah Marshall and colleagues

Integrated training posts allow GP trainees to split their time between general practice and a placement in another specialty. These posts are popular across many GP training programmes.

In the North of England we have developed a number of extended integrated training posts. In these posts GP trainees are offered six to 12 months of additional training to study an area of interest—such as education, research, commissioning, or leadership—in greater depth while keeping a foot in day-to-day general practice.

Our first training post was developed in 2005. Since then the number has increased to over 20 academic, leadership, and commissioning posts based at local clinical commissioning groups and universities.

Interests and aspirations

One of the advantages of general practice is the ability to build a portfolio career with roles in an array of clinical and non-clinical areas. These supplementary roles are often credited with reducing burnout and increasing job satisfaction. But the constraints of the three year GP training scheme can leave little time or flexibility to pursue these interests and aspirations.

In the North East and North Cumbria, extended integrated training posts let GP trainees do just that. Trainees spend half their time in general practice and the other half expanding their horizons in their chosen field. While in their post, trainees complete an academic qualification such as all or part of Newcastle University’s medical education masters programme, a masters in research, or a diploma in leadership. As well as valuable experience and exposure to their area of interest they are supported to publish and present at regional and national conferences.

Thanks to the UK Clinical Research Collaboration there have been opportunities for research minded GP trainees to undertake year long clinical fellow posts. We also hope that the continued GP focus of our extended integrated training posts will attract trainees who may not have considered one of these fulltime posts.

Most extended integrated training posts are for one year, with the option to increase to two years in some posts, and add an additional six or 12 months on to the trainee’s time in training. Both the salaries and the fees for qualifications come from the Health Education England North East and North Cumbria GP training budget.

Unanimously positive

Testimonies from the doctors who have completed the extended integrated training posts have been unanimously positive. They say that the experiences and skills they gained—including both specific skills such as research skills and generic skills such as time management—will be valuable to them in their future careers. In addition to taking up local posts as salaried and partner GPs, they have expressed intentions to continue involvement in their supplementary field.

In the context of the GP recruitment crisis and the region being undersubscribed for all postgraduate medical training, the extended integrated training posts are one of many strategies helping to attract high quality trainees. Formal feedback from the trainees undertaking these posts has suggested that this initiative has been effective in achieving this aim.

These posts were noted in the recent Health Education England and Medical Schools Council report, By Choice—Not By Chance, as an example of good practice in raising the profile of general practice to students and future doctors.

We hope to expand the extended integrated training post programme further, with the opportunity to extend to two years for all of the posts, and opportunities for more trainees to take up a post.

Competing interests: We have read and understood BMJ’s policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: none.

Hannah Marshall clinical teaching fellow  Newcastle University
Hugh Alberti sub dean for primary care  Newcastle University
Sarah Cope GP trainee  Northumbria GP training programme, North East and North Cumbria
Graham Rutt director  Postgraduate school of primary care, North East England and North Cumbria

 h.r.marshall@hotmail.co.uk 

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: