A college tutor | Association of Anaesthetists

A college tutor

A day in the life of a college tutor

Good morning

The day dawns bright and the predictable tussle with two uncooperative children, an equally uncooperative husband and the dog, ensues. They all seem surprised that once again we have to leave on time for school/work/walk (delete as appropriate). Work starts with a morning list and I have one of the more senior trainees with me. It's a relief when they inform me they don’t want (need?) to do any workplace-based assessments and so we have a lovely morning with a bit of teaching and a bit of a catch up. 

For reference

The time, however, is punctuated with visits and calls. A visit from a clinical supervisor asking for advice about some documentation they are preparing to support delivery of their unit of training locally. A telephone call from the Deanery to see how I’m getting on with the tasks I was given at the last Training Committee meeting. (I'm not getting on very well. I bluff it. I think she falls for it). 

A visit from a senior trainee to ask if I will act as a referee for their forthcoming consultant job application. I’ve been their college tutor for a significant part of their training and am delighted. It always feels like an absolute honour to be asked to support an application for any post. 

After lunch I head to my office to begin reviewing my trainees' portfolios ahead of the forthcoming Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCPs). I say office. It's actually a glorified, windowless, broom cupboard I share with one of my colleagues. We have to be careful not to push our chairs back from our desks at the same time or we could end up in a very compromising position. 

I log onto the e-Portfolio but not long afterwards there is a knock at the door; one of the educational supervisors wants to discuss a trainee's progress with me. Then the regional advisor arrives to see how I'm getting on with my Training Committee tasks. (I'm not. I bluff it. They don't fall for it and give me a deadline).

Everything happens for a reason

Then a trainee pops in to discuss their portfolio ahead of the forthcoming ST interviews. Their portfolio is excellent, but the real reason for the visit soon becomes clear. The trainee explains they are married to a doctor and both of them are applying for ST jobs. Clearly upset, they tell me that to complicate things further one of them is entering the lottery of dual training and limited job availability in their preferred region. 

I sit and listen; having worked away from my husband for almost three years during my training I really sympathise but it felt like we had a bit more control back in my day. I offer vague suggestions interspersed with clichés. 'Everything happens for a reason.' The trainee leaves looking slightly happier. 


Back to the portfolios. I review and make notes on them to present at the ARCP, to help both my ailing memory and the summary we produce afterwards. As ever I'm amazed at just how much trainees do these days. Then the 'bing' of a text.

'Mum, where are you?' 




Text-nagging. I shoot out of my office back to my other life, but as I shut the door I catch sight of a bright A4 lever arch folder in the corner. My RITA file. Eight years of training evidence in one file. Those were the days. 

Back at home, after tea, I have a look at my emails and see one from the trainee I spoke to earlier. 'Thank you. We both feel so much better.' I reflect on this. (Something else new to me. Should I be writing it up for my appraisal?). All I really did was listen, but sometimes that's all that’s needed

Written anonymously. Article originally published in Anaesthesia News, June 2018.

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