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Training of workplace-based clinical trainers in family medicine, South Africa : before-and-after evaluation

Mash, Robert ; Blitz, Julia ; Edwards, Jill ; Mowle, Steve (2018-05)

CITATION: Mash, R., et al. 2018. Training of workplace-based clinical trainers in family medicine, South Africa : before-and-after evaluation. African Journal of Primary Health care & Family Medicine, 10(1):a1589, doi:10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1589.

The original publication is available at

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.


Background: The training of family physicians is a relatively new phenomenon in the district health services of South Africa. There are concerns about the quality of clinical training and the low pass rate in the national examination. Aim: To assess the effect of a five-day course to train clinical trainers in family medicine on the participants’ subsequent capability in the workplace. Setting: Family physician clinical trainers from training programmes mainly in South Africa, but also from Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and Botswana. Methods: A before-and-after study using self-reported change at 6 weeks (N = 18) and a 360-degree evaluation of clinical trainers by trainees after 3 months (N = 33). Quantitative data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences, and qualitative data were analysed thematically. Results: Significant change (p < 0.05) was found at 6 weeks in terms of ensuring safe and effective patient care through training, establishing and maintaining an environment for learning, teaching and facilitating learning, enhancing learning through assessment, and supporting and monitoring educational progress. Family physicians reported that they were better at giving feedback, more aware of different learning styles, more facilitative and less authoritarian in their educational approach, more reflective and critical of their educational capabilities and more aware of principles in assessment. Despite this, the trainees did not report any noticeable change in the trainers’ capability after 3 months. Conclusion: The results support a short-term improvement in the capability of clinical trainers following the course. This change needs to be supported by ongoing formative assessment and supportive visits, which are reported on elsewhere.

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