I&R (Eng) - Observational placements
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Observational placements

Observational placements allow you to spend time with a GP so that you can learn about the role and work of an NHS GP in todays’ rapidly changing health service. They are offered to Induction and Refresher (I&R) applicants at the very start of the process to help inform their decisions about returning to practice. The below is designed to answers some of the questions you may have about this aspect of the Induction and Refresher Scheme.

What is a practice observational placement?

The I&R scheme recognises the importance of providing a supportive and encouraging approach to qualified GPs who decide to return to work following a career gap from NHS general practice or for those who have qualified outside the UK and have no previous NHS GP experience.

These observational placements give applicants the opportunity to spend time in an NHS general practice to observe the core elements of the day to day workings of the practice. This is particularly important given the delivery of primary care services has changed significantly in recent years. The placement is designed to be a supportive and informative process and is not used to make selection decisions about you. Instead these placements are about giving you the opportunity to see first-hand what you can expect from your workplace, the role of an NHS GP and to reflect on potential learning needs in a future placement.

Why would I be offered an observation placement?

There is good evidence that job previews increase the confidence of individuals deciding to apply to the I&R scheme. In cases where an individual is less certain about the decision to return to work, or has no experience of NHS GP, it provides a ‘space’ to think realistically about their decision before proceeding to the assessment process.

What does the observation placement consist of?

The observation placement consists of a number of days based within a NHS practice although the schedule for the days may vary from practice to practice. The placement provides opportunities to:

  • Observe consultations
  • Learn more about the way information technology is used to support consultations
  • Discuss the current GP contract and its influence on the GP’s role
  • Sit in on practice meetings
  • Meet and spend time with administrative staff and the practice manager

At the end of it, you will have an opportunity to discuss your observations and reflections with the trainer. This discussion is not used to make or contribute to a selection decision, but instead to highlight areas that you may wish to discuss with the I&R lead before proceeding with a formal application. It will also allow the I&R lead to tailor their discussions with you to reflect your individual needs.

Supporting information

Before starting your placement you will be asked to sign an agreement. You can view a copy of this here. There’s also more information about observational placements in this document.

Host GPs receive a small payment of £500 to support the cost of their time (for a minimum of one week).

Please note: The decision about the choice of practice for your placement will rest with your Health Education England (HEE) local I&R lead. The practice observation placement is not intended to ‘match’ you with a potential placement.