Helen Barratt: Another round of paperwork

I’ve spent most of the last two weeks compiling paperwork for my ARCP (annual review of competency progression), which replaced the old SpR RITAs [records of in-training assessments] when MMC [Modernising Medical Careers] was implemented. ARCP not only doesn’t roll off the tongue like RITA, but the new process has brought with it even more acronyms to learn, and a whole host of other complications.
In public health, trainees have to fulfil around 140 competencies by the end of training, providing at least one piece of documentary evidence for each. Although there are moves towards implementing an online “e-portfolio,” by the end of five years I’m going to have to install a separate filing cabinet just to store the evidence alone.
I was one of the early foundation trainees, so I’m used to compiling a portfolio of evidence. I’m also familiar with DOPS*, CBDs*, and 360° appraisals, which are all slowly appearing in the public health curriculum, but it’s difficult to see at the moment how many of these can be applied to public health, when much of the work we do is project-based, rather than patient facing. Directly observing a trainee inserting a venflon, for example, is much easier (and quicker) than tracking someone’s work in a PCT perhaps over several weeks.
I’ve been doing an MSc this year as part of the training scheme, so having the ARCP in late July, before we have the results (and therefore documentary evidence for the portfolio), means there is very little progress I can report – or, more accurately, prove – to the panel. Yet I still delivered a folder to the deanery the other day that contained over 40 pages and 15 separate forms.
Eighteen months ago, I spent several evenings lovingly compiling a portfolio about my career for the MTAS interviews, as we had been asked to do. Not one of the panels had a chance to look at it. When the ARCP panel meets next week, with around 30 trainees to review, I wonder whether they will be able to fully appreciate my handiwork.
*DOPS: Direct observation of practical skills; CBD: case based discussions.