Information for educational supervisors

As an educational supervisor, you are typically the first point of contact for providing careers support to doctors in training.

In your educational supervisor role, you're most likely to be able to take a more informed and constructive role about a particular trainee doctor's strengths and weaknesses.

It is not expected that you will be an expert across the whole range of medical careers. Instead you need to be able to direct trainee doctors to appropriate resources, so they can begin to access the information that they need in order to decide which options might suit them.

Helping your trainee

As an educational supervisor you should familiarise yourself with the four stage model of career planning:

You might also want to register and try out some of the exercises on this website yourself, so that you will be in a better position to discuss them with your trainee doctors.

Key points for one-to-ones with doctors in training

  • spend some time discussing your trainee doctor’s career plans at each educational supervision meeting. If necessary arrange an extra meeting devoted to career planning
  • in your first session, review the overall four-stage career-planning model
  • help your trainee doctor to lay the groundwork by spending sufficient time on stages one and two
  • ask your trainee doctor to bring their learning portfolio and their career-planning folder to all one-to-one meetings
  • encourage them to use the learning portfolio (and any other relevant data) to enhance their understanding of how they have been progressing
  • encourage your trainee doctor not to leave career planning to the last minute
  • listening is key, a good tip is to remember that we have two ears and one mouth and it's important they’re used in that proportion
  • if you're concerned the trainee doctor is being unrealistic, focus on challenging questions rather than directive advice
  • if necessary suggest they talk through their career plans with a colleague and provide that colleague with a brief report that outlines your concerns
  • at the end of each meeting, ask your trainee doctor to specify which career-planning tasks they will carry out, and within which specified time-scale
  • Dr Caroline Elton, previously head of careers advice and planning in the careers unit, Health Education South London, has produced a helpful e-learning module for educational supervisors wishing to study more about providing careers support to their trainees. The e-learning module is freely available to download from the careers unit website.

  • You may wish to find out more about coaching and to read a useful guide produced by Dr Maire Shelly, formerly associate postgraduate dean at Health Education North West.


  • If you would like to learn more about giving careers support to your trainee/s, most local education and training boards (LETBs) hold regular career support training workshops specifically for educational supervisors who are providing guidance to trainee doctors. The workshops are run by career professionals and provide an opportunity to share experiences and gain an understanding of how to provide effective careers support to trainee doctors.

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