Trailblazer GP Blogs

Action Learning Sets

Dr Sam Wild (Trailblazer GP 18/19) tells us his experience of being part of an Action Learning Set of GPs working in areas of deprivation as part of The Trailblazer Scheme in Yorkshire.

Dr Sam Wild (Trailblazer GP 18/19)
Trailblazer GP Blogs

Action Learning Sets Video

Dr Sam Wild (Trailblazer GP 18/19) tells us his experience of being part of an Action Learning Set of GPs working in areas of deprivation as part of The Trailblazer Scheme.

Trailblazer GP Blogs


Helen Barclay (2018/19 Trailblazer) tells us about her experience of coaching during the scheme

Trailblazer GP Blogs

Action Learning Sets and Professional Coaching

There were some incredible opportunities to connect with other like-minded GP’s on an action learning set. It allowed some thinking time to explore problematic areas of practice within our new jobs at newly qualified GP’s and solve ‘wicked’ issues, where the concept of the problem is often difficult to comprehend and understand and the answers often lie in nuanced collective agreement rather than reactionary approaches. The theory is that this approach by sharing problems with like-minded peers with similar professional experience is more likely to result in making meaningful behavioural change and positive action. My session of coaching was almost a well-earned and useful time for reflection on the path I was headed in my early stages as GP.


The Action learning set in Sheffield really provided me with the head space to reflect on my learning as a newly qualified GP. Other GP’s who attended brought other difficulties they were having in practice. These included inter-professional difficulties with the managing partner, perceived workload inequity, payscale differences with another newly qualified GP who had negotiated a higher wage, difficulties in considering how to request more admin time to perform a job description and how to deal with the feeling of not being able to meet the demands of the administrative side of the job with the time made available to do so. I left feeling more able to understand the common difficulties we all face as newly qualified practitioners working in a primary care system under strain from under-funding and from being over-subscribed. I also felt the comfort in understanding the problems others face on a daily basis and how we were able to tackle these as a collective has changed my practice in the way that I am now committed to using this learning style to help solve future ‘wicked’ problems, or tease out problems that I find it difficult to articulate. I will also be able to apply this method of problem solving when working within practice teams and partnerships to work more collaboratively and achieve greater shared understanding.

My coaching session was nothing short of a revelation as it provided insight into my career that I had never really had before. The beauty of the coaching was that little advice was actually offered and in the two hours offered of self reflection and learning I was able to address some of the nagging issues that had previously been concerning me. This was mainly in relation to the feeling I had of inertia within my early career and that I hadn’t set the ‘new’ challenge.

My coaching allowed me to identify what I was feeling was a lack of validation in my new job and a lack of openness with my new practice management team as to how I was settling in and what opportunities I might be able to get involved with. I quickly made assertions to make contact with my mentor to make a mid-year progress meeting to ascertain how the practice thought I was doing (it was better than I thought!) and also to ascertain what opportunities the practice may hold in store for me and my scope of experience. This has taught me the importance personally of ensuring I not only consider my own performance, but I obtain the feedback of others as to how I am getting on to obtain some kind of objective measure which in turn helps drive motivation. As a potential future employer, this is something I have really taken on board and it will change my practice of giving regular feedback to others in my team.

Dr Mathew Fortnam (Trailblazer 2018/19)

Trailblazer GP Blogs

Effective Meetings

This was a useful day as meetings and involvement in meetings is something I feel I can struggle with and find participation in meetings is not something which comes naturally to me.

As my career progresses I am more likely to have an increased involvement in meeting/teaching and so this day gave helpful pointers in how to make meetings more valuable.

Key learning points:

– Consider place – tidy/clean environment, maybe drinks/food and be well prepared. This will make people feel more valued and more likely to engage

– Attention – the attention you pay to someone in aim to enhance there thinking (demonstrated and practiced in thinking pairs, while listening paying attention to content, response, environment. Not interjecting often, remain more neutral, allowing silences)

– Equality – aiming to allow everyone to have there say/give their ideas. Especially when chairing asking those are not as involved what they think (ok for them to agree with previous points/have no different thoughts)

– Issues to questions – think what’s the issue, what is the outcome wanted and what is the question, that if we could answer it, would get us closest to our outcome. Have an agenda of questions, this will help people have ideas on solutions.

– Send details around the agenda questions out in advance so the details do not need discussing in detail first

– Giving a minute for people to jot down their thoughts on the question before starting the discussion I found was helpful to structure discussions and responses.

– Consider using rounds – everyone getting a chance to discuss, then asking next person what they think. Can go around again after initial thoughts if this has changed any opinions or prompted new points

– Thinking council; presenter presents issue, then questions to clarify questions, then in a round everyone gets a change to respond to the question, no interruptions

– Appreciation – should do this more in general, and in meetings. Sincere, succinct, specific

Following on from this teaching I have had opportunity to put this teaching into practice. I organised and run a mental health MDT meeting with secondary care and IAPT to discuss difficult mental health cases which we were not sure needed referral or how to manage best.

I found this intimidating, but the above knowledge helped me greatly in structuring the meeting and making it run smoothly
In particular, sending out information in advance and ensuring the cases we were discussing had specific questions to answer was very beneficial.

I didn’t formally use rounds in the discussion, but I more actively tried to involve everyone in the discussions and give good attention to all

I also ensured I was familiar with the room being used and that tea and biscuits were available (although the take up for these was surprisingly poor!)

My confidence in running meetings have developed greatly, this is something that I still find less natural and less comfortable with, but the above learning has really helped and I will be using further in future.

Dr Sam Wild

Date of teaching 23rd November 2018