Original Research

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

Robert Mash, Julia Blitz, Jill Edwards, Steve Mowle
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 10, No 1 | a1589 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1589 | © 2018 Robert Mash, Julia Blitz, Jill Edwards, Steve Mowle | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 July 2017 | Published: 31 May 2018

About the author(s)

Robert Mash, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Julia Blitz, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Jill Edwards, Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Stellenbosch University South Africa; Royal College of General Practitioners,London United Kingdom, United Kingdom
Steve Mowle, Royal College of General Practitioners, London, United Kingdom, United Kingdom


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.


training of trainers; general practice physicians; family practice; graduate education; teaching methods; educational activities; competency based education


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