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The support hub

Jocelyn Pryce, Tahmina Hussain and Mike Carter give an update on professional growth, training and development.

The IBMS Support Hub was launched last year following feedback from a membership survey in which members identified areas where further support would be beneficial. This was taken on board and we began to deliver online sessions via Zoom, focusing on the specific areas identified by members. These sessions were delivered during lunchtime in order to make them accessible to as many as possible, ranging from discussions based on how to reflect, barriers to CPD, approaches to evidence, registration portfolio verifications and specialist portfolio examinations.

Two in particular, “Support for training officers and candidates” and “Soft skills for training officers”, were aimed at those involved in the management of training and training officers and received a large amount of very positive feedback. We asked what more we could do to help and what areas we could focus on that would be beneficial for those involved in training. From the responses we went on to create a series of IBMS Support Hub sessions that focused on “Skills for training officers”.

Planning your training

With our roles and experience, we recognise the importance of professional growth and that the provision of continuous learning, training and development is extremely important to build a strong workforce that can deliver a highly effective and efficient laboratory service. With this in mind, we identified five major components of the training and competency framework that we delivered over five sessions. The first of this series focused on “Planning your Training”.

In the session we discussed the process of establishing learning outcomes and how to meet those learning objectives. Participants shared approaches to how they have created structures for planning, organising, coordinating and implementing training strategies within their own organisation. We discussed the importance of developing a training committee involving training leads to ensure both the departmental and individual training objectives are being met. We explored how this would also be beneficial when it came to looking at what resources were available and any budgetary requirements that would need to be taken into consideration. In our conversations we established the huge benefit  of joining or establishing a training network within or between trusts so that training officers can share best practices while gaining support from one another.

Training needs analysis was another aspect that many of the participants found very interesting and useful within this session. Those who are new to their roles as training leads were unsure of what the process of training needs analysis looked like, so it was great to see so many of our training officers and training managers sharing their approaches, resources and expertise in this area. We shared how the training needs analysis process was an important step in the training strategy as the purpose of this is to identify the learning and development requirements for not only individual members of staff but for the department, or even the whole organisation.

By performing training needs analysis, it is possible to identify where there are gaps or address any poor performance issues. The process is useful for gathering accurate information and can help the training leads recognise the reasons for poor performance, whether further training is required and if so, how to resolve the problem. We discussed how this is beneficial when it comes to establishing what level of training is required in order to achieve the learning outcomes successfully and how this will be measured and reviewed. This discussion then led us onto the development of training programmes based on the results of the training needs analysis process.

Training programmes should be specific for each individual, as everyone has different levels of experience of working within the laboratory, different learning styles and pace of learning. The training programme should define the timeframes for each area of training that the individual is expected to complete in order to achieve their learning outcomes and pass the competency assessments successfully.

The programme should be reviewed regularly to ensure targets are being met on time and, if not, what steps need to take place to achieve this. An action plan would be beneficial in this case as this will outline how the training will be facilitated, the timescales for achieving the objectives and areas of responsibility.

Positive response

The group also discussed learning agreements and how this has proved to be an effective method for ensuring all stakeholders are committed and aware of the requirements and expectations.

We shared some useful aspects to include in the learning agreements, with experienced training leads sharing ideas on how to develop forms for learning contracts and agreements.

This session proved to be successful and had lots of participation from attendees, as well as requests for the session  recording from those who could not make it. It was rewarding to see how the interaction and engagement between all those who joined these sessions contributed to the success of this series. Overall, there has been a hugely positive response, with participants emailing to say how useful they have found the sessions and asking us to continue.  

Jocelyn Pryce is an Associate Professor at Anglia Ruskin University, Tahmina Hussain is Pathology Training Coordinator at The Christie Pathology Partnership and Mike Carter is a former Public Health England Scientific Education and Training Manager. If you found the summary of this session useful, look out for further articles on the Support Hub blog online at Here we will be covering: challenges in training, giving good feedback and assessments, learning styles, supporting through mentoring and coaching.


Image credit |Ikon

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