Locum doctors are among the many licensed physicians required to go through revalidation every five years in order to be able to continue to practice. Launched in December last year, revalidation was designed to create a more robust health service. It is aimed at ensuring every doctor is fit for practice, helping to raise patients' trust in the service.
Doctors taking on agency shifts in addition to their normal workload are in an interesting position. They have a broader spectrum of patients and colleagues to draw recommendations from, which in turn, generates a wider overview of their performance. One of the main parts of the revalidation process is appraisals, which take into account fellow doctors' and patients' opinions of your performance.
Before getting straight to appraisals though, it is worth taking into consideration the other aspects of revalidation you need to address:
As part of the revalidation process, you need to confirm your designated body. This is your employer, which could be a hospital or agency, for example. If you work for both a hospital and an agency, then your designated body will be the hospital. If you are a locum doctor and work for various agencies, then you link to the agency you carry out the majority of your locum placements. If you are unsure of which organisation to make your designated body, speak to the GMC for advice.
You will be assigned a responsible officer who oversees your performance and will make the recommendation to the GMC based on feedback from your annual appraisals, the GMC will have the final say regarding your revalidation. They will be a senior member of staff at your designated body and are an invaluable resource as they are among the first to be revalidated, so you could look to them for guidance.
Complaints and feedback
Any complaints will be discussed as part of your appraisal. But rather than panic about how these might go against you, try to demonstrate how the experience has developed you as a physician. Many doctors are likely to receive at least one complaint every five years, so think about what you learned from the complaint and how you can implement this lesson in your practice going forward. No one is perfect, but it is vital to be able to reflect on your mistakes and take the most from them to deepen your expertise.
Appraisals make up the bulk of the work you need to prepare for revalidation. For this, you must create a detailed portfolio demonstrating your professionalism. This involves everything from administerial tasks like clinical audits to patient and colleague feedback. As part of the process, you need to provide evidence of professional development. As a locum doctor, however, you are already at an advantage if you have been making the most of the opportunity. Locums can work in a variety of settings, demonstrating their broad experience. Add to this the opportunity to work in a number of specialisms and you have a very well-rounded doctor.
Revalidation should not be a daunting prospect and appraisals are not to be feared. If you have been working hard to develop as a doctor, providing as good patient care as possible, this will shine through in your portfolio. Organisation will go a long way to keeping you on top of all the tasks you have to keep record of, but with commitment and confidence, there is no reason why you should not receive revalidation from the GMC.