Recognition and approval of trainers

Our standards Promoting Excellence in Medical Education recognise the importance of the role of the educator in providing high quality and safe education and training. Our standards require that educators have the necessary knowledge and skills for their role, and get the support and resources they need to deliver effective education and training. Our arrangements for the recognition and approval of trainers aim to protect and enhance the role of the trainer.

Who needs to be recognised and approved?

We have statutory powers to approve GPs who provide training for GP registrars and we are required to publish the list of approved GP trainers. If opportunities for regulatory reform become available we will seek legislation that gives us greater scope and flexibility regarding approvals so that we can align our responsibilities for trainers across each stage of medical education and across different areas of medical training.

In the meantime, working in partnership with medical schools, Health Education England, NHS Education for Scotland, Northern Ireland Medical & Dental Training Agency, and Wales Deanery (deaneries and local offices) we have developed the recognition and approvals framework to make sure that the role of the trainer is valued and protected.

From 31 July 2016 we require that medical trainers in four roles are recognised locally by medical schools and deaneries/local offices:

Postgraduate roles requiring recognition:

  1. a. named educational supervisors
  2. b. named clinical supervisors

Undergraduate roles requiring recognition:

  1. c. lead coordinators for undergraduate education at each local education provider
  2. d. doctors who oversee medical students’ progress at each medical school.

Recognition will not be required for other doctors whose practice contributes to the teaching, training or supervision of students or doctors in training. But recognition may be available locally to trainers not currently in the four specific roles, including non-medical trainers.

What do we mean by recognition and approval?

Recognition is the local process by which Deaneries/Local offices and Medical Schools collect evidence from their named trainers on how they meet the criteria required to be a trainer. As the process for recognition is determined at a local level, these processes will vary between deaneries/local offices and Medical Schools. All medical schools, deaneries and local offices share their local lists with the GMC on a regular basis so that we can maintain our database of recognised and approved trainers on a daily basis. From September we will update the List of Registered Medical Practitioners to ensure that all doctors in these four roles who have achieved recognition are recognised on our register.

Approval is the process by which we formally approve medically-qualified General Practice trainers. We have statutory authority to approve only GP trainers.

Our remit is to regulate doctors so we cannot recognise or approve non-medically-qualified trainers. However, Deaneries/Local offices and Medical Schools may wish to recognise non-medically-qualified trainers who are performing a similar role; requiring them to meet the same standards as other named trainers and recognising them locally.

Standards and criteria for recognition and approval of trainers

Promoting excellence requires that postgraduate deaneries, local offices, and medical schools make sure that educators have the necessary knowledge and skills, support and resources they need for their role. Postgraduate deans and medical schools – as education organisers – have to meet GMC requirements for formally recognising medical trainers in four specific roles.

We have adopted the Academy of Medical Educators “Professional Standards for medical, dental and veterinary educators” (2014), as the criteria against which all trainers in recognised roles will be expected to provide evidence of their ongoing professional development. Although the medial educators’ standards have since been updated we currently continue to use the edition published in 2014 for the purposes of approval and recognition of trainers. The criteria comprise seven areas:

  1. 1. ensuring safe and effective patient care through training
  2. 2. establishing and maintaining an environment for learning
  3. 3. teaching and facilitating learning
  4. 4. enhancing learning through assessment
  5. 5. supporting and monitoring educational progress
  6. 6. guiding personal and professional development
  7. 7. continuing professional development as an educator

Local education providers, such as hospitals and general practices, will provide evidence against the seven areas to show how they identify, train and appraise trainers in each of the four medical trainer roles. Education organisers will then use that information to show us what local arrangements are in place to meet our standards and how trainers meet the seven. Upon reviewing the evidence, we will be in a position to recognise trainers.

GMC documents

Further details about the recognition and approval of trainers can be found in our Implementation Plan (pdf). Now that the programme is in place we are preparing to evaluate the plan and will be speaking to medical schools, postgraduate bodies and trainers locally about their experiences.

If you would like any further information, please contact