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Appraisal is not a new activity and has been recommended as an educational tool for many years. Yet experience of appraisal is very variable. One of the difficulties is the use of the term appraisal to describe a number of different activities.

In 1996 SCOPME produced a consultation document looking at Appraisal for trainees and defined it as follows:-

Appraisal should be primarily “educational, confidential and designed to assist the individual to progress”.

Compare this with the definition of Assessment “a process in which explicit measurements and judgements are made against defined (usually external) criteria”.

Appraisal is a confidential dialogue between trainee and Educational supervisor, discussing all aspects of the trainees professional work. As part of this discussion the trainee and Educational Supervisor will consider the outcomes of completed assessments, multi-source feedback, reflective practice, participation in audit, teaching and other aspects of professional life. Self- assessment is a useful part of appraisal and should be encouraged.

Skills of the Appraiser

An appraiser must be able to relate effectively to the trainee. They must be able to listen in an active way, hear and understand and recognise the importance of what is not said. The ability to establish a good rapport is at the heart of good appraisal and the Educational Supervisor must take care not to jump to conclusions. Feedback is a very important aspect of appraisal and the Educational Supervisor needs to be skilled at giving feedback and prepared to do this. AS the relationship between appraisee and appraiser is key to the success of appraisal, there should be flexibility within the system for an appraisee to choose another appraiser if necessary.

Both trainee and Educational Supervisor need to be prepared for appraisal and book adequate time in a quiet environment for the meeting. Interruptions should be avoided.

Appraisal should result in a personal development plan which should be S.M.A.R.T







1. S.C.O.P.M.E., (1996) Appraising doctors and dentists in training; A working paper for consolation, S.C.O.P.M.E., London.
2. Giving Feedback and monitoring progress, Berend Mets. Chapter 17, Clinical Teaching- A guide to teaching practical anaesthesia. David Greaves et al. Swets & Zeitlinger 2003
3. Assessments and Appraisal. Julian Archer. Chapter 8. Educational Supervision in postgraduate medical education. Nicola Cooper et al. Wiley-Blackwell 2009

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