Top tips to make the most of your GP appraisal

You deserve an appraisal that is worthwhile. You have the power to make sure it is.

Your appraisal should be a fulfilling professional event - we all deserve a chance to review our achievements and challenges, and to plan ahead. Follow these tips to take control of your appraisal and your own wellbeing.

Decide what you want to focus on in advance

Ensure you're getting the most out of your appraisal by steering it towards the areas you want to consider and discuss.

Before your appraisal, think about how you want to use your protected time. Focus on what is most important to you, including maintaining and improving your wellbeing. COVID-19 will have impacted you personally and professionally - make sure to consider this. 

Make sure your appraiser suits you

Since the aim is for you to have a valuable appraisal, there is currently a low threshold for allowing you to have the same appraiser for an additional time, above the usual maximum.

If you already have a good rapport, it will help you to make this appraisal the great opportunity to reflect that it should be.

If your appraiser’s availability or preferences are a mismatch, don’t be afraid to ask for a re-allocation.

Make the most of your appraiser’s knowledge and support

Use your appraiser’s skills and expertise to facilitate your reflection. In particular:

  • Use their detailed knowledge of the GMC requirements to ensure that you meet them
  • Their coaching and mentoring skills to support your development
  • And, if you want any other support, make sure you discuss it so they can signpost resources for you to consider and include in your PDP if appropriate.

Agree your appraisal date and video-conferencing tool in good time

Confirm the date and time and add them to the system promptly to avoid repeated automated reminders.

If either of you need to postpone or alter the details of your appraisal because of local pressures e.g. due to COVID-19, just rearrange between yourselves.

Obviously, it is courteous to give as much notice as you can, but don’t worry if a change had to be made at the last minute.

Make sure your video-conferencing tool will help

  • Ensure that you have the privacy to create a safe space to talk, and enough bandwidth for a good internet connection
  • Exchange mobile phone numbers so you can communicate if something goes wrong
  • If you’re worried, do a test run before the appraisal.

Keep your written preparation proportionate – it should take less than 30 minutes

Use the rebalanced Medical Appraisal 2020 processes which reflect the context of the pandemic. The pre-appraisal requirement now recognises that you may not have been able to collect your usual supporting information and that the amount of documentation provided had become disproportionate for many.

Think quality not quantity. Verbal reflection during the appraisal will carry the same weight as written reflection pre-appraisal.

You still need to include any GMC Significant Events or Complaints and anything your RO has specifically asked you to bring to your appraisal. Of course, it’s also OK to present any extra written information that you personally want to include and discuss.

Make sure your PDP goals are your own

Ownership of your PDP goals is important to engagement.

Take time to discuss your plans and how they will have a positive impact on your wellbeing, working relationships, or patient care. Do include things that are ‘must do’ as well as things that stimulate you.

Be realistic about what is achievable and capture the steps to achieving your goal so you can track your progress. Consider including a goal about maintaining and improving how you look after yourself.

Take advantage of available support

Explore the RCGP appraisal and revalidation support hub for more help and advice.

About the writer

Dr Susi Caesar.