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National School statement on flexible delivery of STP rotations

Tuesday, 02 April 2019

In 2018, the National School published the outcomes and recommendations of its comprehensive STP Improvement Review, to which over 1,000 respondents from the Healthcare Science community contributed.

One of the strongest findings of the Review suggested that there was substantial support for reconsideration of the delivery of the rotation modules undertaken as part of the STP programme. The Review recommended that ‘Rotations should be reviewed with a view to ensuring they have educational value, are deliverable, and flexible. This has several elements, with a need to review rotation content, choice, organisation, duration and assessment.’

We have continued to listen to colleagues’ concerns about rotations since the publication of the Improvement Review, so, whilst the National School is working on a number of proposals to put its recommendations into practice, we are issuing this statement to training departments to outline how they might already and currently manage and deliver rotations much more flexibly.

The School recommends that training departments planning and delivering rotational placements can be guided by the following advice:

  1. Training departments and Training Officers should feel that they have the ‘permission’ to interpret the current rules about the duration of rotations flexibly.
  2. Rotations do not have to be 12 weeks long.
  3. The School recommends that rotations should be between 4-12 weeks long, provided all the learning outcomes and competencies of that rotation are met during the rotation. It is not necessary to notify the School of changes to the length of rotations agreed in the workplace.
  4. The School acknowledges that for many specialisms a 4 week long rotation (and on unusual occasions a 3 week rotation) into a separate department can be adequate time to fulfil the learning outcomes of that rotation. The School recognises that the competencies and remaining learning outcomes of that particular rotation can often be completed while the trainee is physically back in their base department.
  5. During Curriculum Review, the types of competencies currently present in rotations are likely to change based on what scientific colleagues indicated in the STP Improvement Review.

We hope that this advice supports training departments to manage rotations flexibly ahead of the fuller and more detailed revision of rotations that will result from the School’s STP Curriculum Review.

As part of Curriculum Review, the most appropriate rotation modules for each specialty will be considered, the duration of rotations will be re-examined and the assessment strategy for rotations will be reviewed with a view to focusing more on experiential learning and reflection and less on the coverage and acquisition of competencies.