The preparation for an appraisal is vital to ensure a high quality discussion. The doctor is required to submit their appraisal information in good time (this would normally be at least two weeks for GPs, and 3 days for all other doctors, prior to the appraisal date).
The first requirement of the appraiser is to assess whether sufficient information has been supplied in order to undertake an appraisal discussion.
• The information should normally represent a minimum of 50 credits of CPD
• Information included should be relevant and appropriate
• Information should relate to the doctor’s development
• The doctor’s personal involvement in an activity should be generally clear
• Relevant supporting documentation should be referenced and available
• There should be clear evidence of reflection on activity
• Activities should span the four domains for appraisal and assessment
• The information submitted should reflect the range of roles and responsibilities contained within the appraisal documentation
If you feel that any of these criteria are not met then you should consider postponing the appraisal and asking for further information.
Reviewing personal, professional details and activities. These details should give you an overview of the context in which the doctor is working. In particular you should note any special interest role within the team that should be reflected with developmental material to be presented at appraisal. Whilst there is a requirement to demonstrate development within areas of interest, this should not be at the expense of maintaining general development.
Reviewing the appraisal information (form 3). When reviewing the information presented for appraisal you should look for:-
• Strengths and achievements
• Reflection and development
• Progress against last year's PDP
• Gaps or omissions, particularly assessing the balance of materials in relation to the scope of professional activities listed by the doctor
• Possible learning needs
• Areas on which to give feedback
All information presented should be anonymous. Patients should not be directly or indirectly identifiable and colleagues should not be named unless it is in reference to published material. If there are identifiable individuals then you need to remind the doctor that it is their responsibility to protect the anonymity of third parties. If patients are identified within the information, the doctor needs to correct this (unless specific consent has been obtained).
When considering the information, you should try not to make assumptions about the doctor as an individual, their achievements or developmental needs. Any judgements you make about these aspects should be tested out during the appraisal meeting. There is a balance to be struck between providing each doctor with an appraisal that is balanced and consistent with the process, and one that is meaningful to the individual and meets their needs. Equal opportunity regulations require an appraisal of a consistent standard whilst treating each doctor as an individual and giving consideration to their differing needs and situations.
The overall content of the information supplied is important; preparation for the discussion requires focus. It is important to identify two or three individual entries to discuss in detail. The entries chosen should not necessarily be the largest entries or the one that has involved most work. Try not to focus exclusively on areas of interest for the doctor, rather test out areas that are missing or partially covered. An individual's developmental needs are likely to arise outside areas of interest.
Most importantly you should then write down a list of points or questions you wish to raise during the appraisal discussion. This list should not be slavishly followed; it should be used as an aide memoir.
The appraiser leads on the structure and content of the appraisal discussion and as such they need to be familiar with the doctor's appraisal material. In addition to the material presented this year it is important to review the previous record of appraisal and personal development plan. This will help the appraiser to be able to track and record progress year-on-year.
Most appraisers find it useful to prepare a draft summary of appraisal prior to the appraisal meeting. This can be taken to the meeting and used as a template for the discussion. Notes can then be made directly against each entry, this facilitates the subsequent completion of the summary.
The success, or otherwise, of the appraisal discussion may be dependent on a number of factors. The appraisal meeting should be an appointment, in a quiet room and with sufficient time to allow uninterrupted discussion. Both the appraiser and the doctor should be free from other commitments (including on-call). The appraiser should be familiar with the appraisal material and the doctor should be engaged with the process of appraisal.