Barometer survey: Trainer Interviews

We commissioned follow-up qualitative research with a small number of trainers who took part in the most recent Barometer survey to understand more about their role and how they balance it with their other responsibilities as a doctor.

Key findings

  • Trainers typically enjoyed the role despite its challenges and additional demands. They were often motivated by a desire to give back to the system and improve the quality of the workforce and patient care. Trainers also recognised benefits for their career development and variety within their work.
  • Types of supervision, and the exact focus of training, varied from trainer to trainer. Trainers described a range of aspects to supervision including formal, informal and modelling positive behaviours. 
  • For many of the trainers the focus of their role was often to develop confidence, rather than competence; providing a safe and supportive environment for trainees to practice the clinical and theoretical knowledge they have acquired to date.
  • Balancing supporting trainees with meeting patient needs and administrative tasks is an ongoing challenge.
  • There was a general sense among the trainers that training had become less valued over time. System pressures, such as the coronavirus pandemic and high patient demand, were felt to have led to training being de-prioritised. There was also a view that the attitudes of trainees towards their work are changing.
  • Trainers generally felt supported by their peers and colleagues, though views varied on support from management. Trainers felt supported in environments in which training and the time for it were valued and protected. Trainers felt supported by educational bodies where clear learning outcomes had been set which provided some structure to work within.

Why we commissioned this research

One of the findings from the Barometer survey 2022 was that doctors with training responsibilities are finding it particularly challenging to manage their workloads and do not always feel supported. We commissioned a small number of follow-up interviews with current trainers to understand more about their role and how they balance it with their other responsibilities as a doctor. The interviews explored the responsibilities of trainers, the positive and challenging aspects of their role, and the support available to them.

Evidence from this research has informed The state of medical education and practice in the UK report.

What did the research involve?

The research involved ten depth interviews with current trainers conducted in March 2023. Doctors were invited to take part if they had indicated within the 2022 Barometer survey that they had acted as a named clinical or educational trainer for postgraduate trainees during the previous year. A mix of those working in primary and secondary care took part.


Download SoMEP Barometer 2022: Deep-dive into the experiences of trainers