Information for Trainees Self-Referring to Professional Support
In addition to reading the guidance on this page, we would strongly encourage you to read through our Frequently Asked Questions.
Why would I submit a referral to Professional Support?
We offer a confidential, neutral, safe space in which to explore the challenges you are facing and help you to find the right support and guidance, based on your needs.
Reasons why you may self-refer to Professional Support could include, but are not limited to:
- You may be struggling to develop certain professional behaviours (such as resilience, team working or time keeping) or have difficulties with your confidence and need some guidance and support to help you improve in these areas.
- You may have experienced a difficulty in a relationship with a colleague at work which is causing a barrier to how you work together and need remedial support for the relationship.
- You may be unsure what direction your career is heading in and wish to discuss your options with a Careers Advisor or Associate Dean.
- You may feel overwhelmed by the range of support resources and mechanisms available to you and need some guidance to identify which is right for you and your circumstances.
- You may be experiencing a challenge at work and you are struggling to identify ways to move forward.
- You may be encountering difficulties when returning to training after a period of time out (such as difficulties with clinical skills or confidence)
Is a referral to Professional Support a negative thing?
Not at all! In many curricula and throughout your consultant career, the GMC highlight the importance of developing skills around professional practise and wellbeing, and this can be documented through engagement with Professional Support.
What else might I do before I refer myself?
There are many avenues for accessing support and we would encourage you to try and seek assistance from other sources before you submit a referral to Professional Support. In the first instance, we would recommend accessing some of the following:
- Talk to your supervisor or a colleague you trust – can they help?
- Speak to someone committed to supporting doctors at your place of work. This could include pastoral tutors, training programme directors or directors of medical education.
- Your employing trust will have an Employee Assistance Programme or Staff Support Programme. Details can be found on intranet pages or by contacting your trust HR department. If in doubt, your PGDME team in the trust will be able to direct you appropriately.
- Your GP is your healthcare practitioner so you should contact them if the support you require relates to your health.
- Take a look at our health and wellbeing resources to see if any can provide you with the guidance you need.
How do I submit a referral form?
Our referral process is electronic. Please complete the Professional Support Self-Referral form, providing as much detail as you can as to your circumstances and why you are seeking assistance.
Please be aware that the information you provide within the referral form not be shared with your educational/clinical supervisor, or training programme director, unless you provide consent.
What happens after my referral form has been submitted?
Following the submission of your referral form, it will be triaged by a member of the Professional Support administrative team. Based on the information you provide; they will identify the best source of support for you. In some circumstances, they may need to request further information from you before they can make recommendations. The Professional Support Team will contact you within five working days of the submission of your form to offer you support, which may include:
- A recommendation of applicable resources that are tailored to you (this may be advice about a specific organisation that can support you, training course or other support mechanism that will best address your circumstances)
- Advice of a specific person to contact regarding your concerns (for example, they may refer you to a Careers Advisor or Head of School)
- Facilitating a meeting for you to discuss your circumstances in more depth with a senior member of faculty within the Professional Support Team (one of our Associate Deans)
What happens if I am offered a meeting with an Associate Dean?
Our Associate Deans are experienced colleagues, who have supported a range of postgraduate doctors and dentists in training through a variety of different circumstances. The aim of the meeting is to be supportive. Our Associate Deans will provide you with a non-judgemental, safe space, for you to discuss your circumstances in more detail and to explore what options and resources would be helpful for you.
Please be aware that the Associate Dean may review your trainee file in advance of the meeting, to understand your training history.
Once you have met with an Associate Dean they will complete an encounter form, which broadly outlines the discussions that were had and any agreed support or next steps. A copy of the encounter form will be sent to you for your reference. We encourage trainees to upload a copy of the encounter form to their portfolio, but this is not a requirement.
Where it is relevant, you may also wish to write something in the Health Statement section of the Form R. It is again not compulsory to do so, but you may feel it is useful for the ARCP panel and the Responsible Officer to be aware of this information. All trainees are required to confirm the statement on the Form R that they accept the professional obligations placed on them in Good Medical Practice about their personal health.
If during your discussions with an Associate Dean, you agree a third party needs to be involved, the Associate Dean may send them information about your discussion, with your permission to do so. Any correspondence which is sent to a third party will be copied to you.
How will you use my information?
The information you provide within your referral form will not be shared beyond the Professional Support Team (including an Associate Dean/s for the purposes of organising a meeting) unless you provide consent.
Should you meet with an Associate Dean, you will be asked whether you provide consent for information to be shared with a third party (for example, your educational/clinical supervisors or training programme director). Specifically, you will be asked whether:
- You wish to share a copy of the completed encounter form with a third party yourself.
- You consent to Professional Support sharing a copy of the completed encounter form with a named third party.
- You consent to Professional Support providing a written summary of the encounter to a named third party, rather than the full encounter form.
- You do not consent to the outcome of the meeting being shared with anybody else.
We will save a copy of your referral form and, if applicable, your encounter form, as well as any subsequent correspondence or documents in a secure location of your electronic trainee file, in line with NHS England’s records management policy. This information will be retained so that we have a reference of what support you have been provided with in the past (in case of a second or subsequent self-referral) and to enable us to review the service that we provide.
We may use the personal information you provide to contact you in the future to ask how you are getting on and/or for feedback on your experience of our service.