Being a good trainer does not only mean you have got just the right technical skills to pass on to you trainees. It also means you need to know how to talk to students, how to give feedback and provide supportive supervision. Our training package for surgical specialist covered it all.
Since November 2017 the SURG-Africa Team, under the lead of Oxford University, has been running a series of training workshops for specialist surgeons at central hospitals in our research sites in Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania in preparation for the launch of the supervisory visits programme to district hospitals scheduled for later this year. This month, the fourth and final round of training of trainers (ToT) has been completed.
Now every member of our supervisory team has received training in ‘soft skills’ that will help to provide the best possible mentorship, training and supervision to surgical teams in hospitals selected to take part in SURG-Africa.
The participants specialised in general surgery, orthopaedics, obstetrics, anaesthesia and theatre, will be part of the Surgery Oversight Teams (SOT) responsible for providing supervision, mentorship and in-service training to district surgical teams on a quarterly basis. Expected tasks include attending surgical outpatient clinics, conducting ward rounds with district clinicians, reviewing theatre management practices, delivering in-service training (including hands-on supervision of elective surgical cases done by the local surgical teams), reviewing post-operative cases and liaising with hospital management to facilitate improvements in surgical care delivery.
The ToT workshops focused on building the necessary skills for the delivery of supportive supervision, effective training techniques, and to facilitate learning through mentoring. The workshops involved both theory and group work sessions to ensure the trainers had the opportunity to practice their skills and share experiences before going out to the field.