PMST Blog – Completing the COVID-19 trainee self-assessment / declaration form

Posted on: Friday 7 May 2021
Author: Konrad Obiora

The purpose of this blog is to offer some guidance to pharmaceutical medicine trainees on completing the ‘Trainee self-assessment and declaration for use in ARCPs during COVID-19 pandemic’ (COVID-19 trainee self-assessment/declaration form), which must be completed for the Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP).

The last 12 months have been challenging for pharmaceutical medicine trainees undertaking the Pharmaceutical Medicine Specialty Training (PMST) programme, balancing competing demands on their training time such as adjusting to home working, taking on increased workload related to COVID-19, and for those who are parents to young children, providing home schooling. However, most pharmaceutical medicine trainees are progressing towards and completing the PMST programme despite these challenges.

This has been possible due to several changes made at national and local level to support UK trainees and to take account of the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic may cause to trainees’ progress towards completing their training programmes. A few of those changes included:

  • delivering the Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) meetings remotely
  • introducing new “no fault” COVID-19 ARCP outcomes 10.1 and 10.2
  • introducing the COVID-19 trainee self-assessment/declaration form for ARCP
  • medical specialities updating their ARCP decision aids

The COVID-19 trainee self-assessment/declaration form is one of several documents that an ARCP panel needs when reviewing a trainee’s e-portfolio and progress. The document helps inform the panel’s decision on the trainee’s progress and the appropriate ARCP outcome to award the trainee for the year under review. It is an opportunity for the trainee to state how the pandemic has or has not disrupted their training during the year under review.

The self-assessment/declaration form includes three ratings:

Rating 1: Below expectations for stage of training – needs for further development

Rating 2: Satisfactory progress; meeting expectations for stage of training but some required competencies not met due to COVD-19.

Rating 3: Satisfactory progress for stage of training and required competencies met.

The chart below shows the number of trainees who self-rated themselves one, two or three for ARCPs held between September 2020 and May 2021.

Trainees should be as open and candid as possible when self-rating their progress during the pandemic. The panel will not always meet trainees so it is important the panel receives a full and an accurate assessment of the trainee’s progress and that the trainee’s self-rating is a true reflection of the information on their e-portfolio and their educational supervisor’s report. The trainee should upload a copy of their completed self-assessment/declaration form on to their e-portfolio personal library and link it to the educational supervisor’s report.

If a trainee rates themselves a one or a two, they should explain on the self-assessment/declaration form the reason or reasons why they have given themselves this rating. The trainee should have an educational meeting with their educational supervisor to agree and record an action plan for the trainee to gain those competencies – this should be recorded as a professional development plan (PDP) on the trainee’s e-portfolio and on the educational supervisor’s report. If a trainee rates themselves a three, they should state briefly why they have given themselves this rating.

The educational supervisor must verify their trainee’s self-rating by stating on their supervisor’s report that they agree with their trainee’s self-rating and that if the trainee has self-rated themselves a one or a two, that they record the actions the trainee will take to gain the competencies that they were unable to achieve due to the pandemic.

Why is all this important? Well, the ARCP panel might decide after considering the information on the trainee’s e-portfolio, the trainee’s expected date to complete the PMST training programme and the trainee’s self-rating that they should be awarded either an ARCP outcome 10.1 or 10.2, which can be used to give the trainee additional training time to gain those competencies.

Trainees, educational supervisors and ARCP panels should familiarise themselves with the GMC’s guidance on the use of outcome 10.1 and 10.2 and Health Education England’s outcome 10 decision flowchart.

In conclusion, changes were made to the manage and support trainees’ progress in training during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the changes was the introduction of the COVID-19 trainee self-assessment/declaration form, which trainees must complete for their ARCP. This is an important document to inform the panel’s decision about the trainee’s progress during the pandemic and whether to award the trainee a regular ARCP outcome (e.g. outcome 1) or an outcome 10.

Pharmaceutical medicine trainees should be open and honest when self-rating their progress on the form. If a trainee self-rates themselves a one or a two, it is important that the:

  • trainee explains how the pandemic has disrupted their progress;
  • trainee and their educational supervisor hold an educational meeting to agree an action plan to gain the competencies the trainee was unable to achieve because of the pandemic;
  • trainee records the action in a professional development plan (PDP); and
  • educational supervisor records the actions and verifies the trainee’s self-rating on their supervisor’s report.