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2021/2022 Annual Conference

Following last year's cancellation of the Medical Appraiser Conference last year (along with the Scottish Medical Education Conference), NES held the 2021/2022 annual conference virtually via remote platforms hosted and supported by the EICC.

Programme for the day was as follows:

# Scottish Medical Appraisers Conference sessions
00 Plenary - Reflecting on Relationships in Medical Appraisal
01 Speaking Truth to Power in Appraisals
02 Empowering Performance from Appraisal
03 Appraisal in the New World
04 Medical Appraisal and Revalidation – Navigating the Two Processes and Local and Regulatory Requirements

Each session was recorded and can be accessed, along with sessions' description and materials shared on the day, via the "Read more" links below.

Introduction to Appraiser Conference Videos 2021

There are many different perspectives of medical appraisal ranging from a valued supportive and developmental discussion that encourages doctors to improve the care for patients to a bureaucratic tick box exercise. Appraisers regularly hear about the impact of interpersonal relationships on the work of their appraisees and this will also be relevant in the appraisal discussion itself. The recent appraiser survey showed that there are also a number of misconceptions about appraisal and revalidation. Where these still came up in the talks and discussions we have now added a clarification to the videos. In this conference programme we planned to give appraisers different opportunities to explore some of this further. In addition the pandemic has led to a refocusing on the supportive elements of appraisal that were much more at the forefront when appraisals were first introduced. We hope that appraisers have found that the sessions gave them a reflective opportunity to consider their current practice and any different approaches they may want to try out in the future.

The morning sessions explored some of the interpersonal dynamics and how appraisers can influence this. Megan Reitz's and Kate Burnett's talks and workshops were an opportunity to consider how we come across as appraisers and how well we listen to our appraisees. When revalidation came in many UK doctors felt they had to 'pass' their appraisal in order to be allowed to continue practicing (even though appraisal has never been a pass or fail thing). In a doctor's mind this gives their appraiser significant power over them and having listened to Megan Reitz made me wonder if that leads to some appraisers being seen as scary. Appraisal is an opportunity to have a confidential discussion about any issues people are facing or ideas for improvement they have and use good questioning and listening to help the appraisee think through their approach to taking things forward – and that can be around ensuring they get the support they need to cope with the current situation just as much as any improvement ideas they have. As appraisal is a confidential discussion and the Form 4 confidential to appraiser, appraisee and responsible officer only the appraisee is in a position to take anything forward.

Hilary Macpherson and Krystyna Gruszecka put together a session that explored both a virtual approach to appraisals and the more wellbeing focused discussion appraisers are encouraged to have. Those of you who attended will know that this session suffered from a number of technical issues. The video no longer requires you to copy paste a link into your browser to see the demonstration videos and has now got Krystyna's voice over to go with her slides. So even if you attended you may wish to view this again. It was also an excellent demonstration of the need to have a plan B for remote appraisals.

The final session led by the GMC we hope addressed some of the confusion around appraisal and how it links to revalidation and where the responsibilities around both processes lie. Some themes that came up are the many different sources of guidance for appraisal leaving appraisers and appraisees alike uncertain what the minimum requirements really are. As the session made clear the GMC guidance is very high level and gives flexibility in how the requirements for revalidation can be met. Especially around patient feedback this has led to doctors struggling to find a way of collecting this in a meaningful way that is feasible with many more consultations being held remotely. Several different ways are currently being used in Scotland and a national approach is being looked at. In the meantime, doctors were reassured that the GMC is expecting higher levels of deferrals in the current situation and that a deferral has no impact on a doctor's licence to practice.

Dr Christiane Shrimpton
Associate Postgraduate Dean for Appraisal and Revalidation (19th June 2021)