We offer a “Buddy Scheme” for all new Core Trainees in the Peninsula Deanery. The drive for this comes from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and follows recent trials in other areas which show Buddy Schemes can improve peer support for core psychiatry trainees and improve contact between core and higher trainees within psychiatry, with the aim of helping keep trainee psychiatrists happy and well supported during Core Training.

Peninsula Deanery is large, presenting challenges for meeting up with peers, and higher trainees, both of which can help with motivation and morale. Psychiatry training is rewarding and exciting, but can also be demanding and a long haul, and the training experience can be helped by having a supportive network.

The scheme was introduced as a pilot in 2014 in the Peninsula, we offer it to all new core trainees from August 2015 onwards. There is scope to expand to Foundation Doctors and undergraduates interested in a career in psychiatry.

What exactly?

1.)    We pair each new core trainee up with a higher psychiatry trainee (ST4+) in the training area, or, if preferred, within a particular subspecialty of interest to the core trainee.

2.)    Buddies then make contact and meet up at agreed intervals, the emphasis being on keeping this flexible and informal.

3.)    How Core Trainees use the Buddy Scheme is up to them; the idea is that it is flexible and tailored to their requirements, which can be decided upon before the first meeting or subsequently. A number of possible benefits from Buddy Schemes include increased contact with higher trainees, better peer support, advice on exams, job choices, on call work and career decisions, opportunities for research or other career development, and social contacts and information about the local area. It is likely that what a Core Trainee might want from a Buddy will evolve with their experience in training, with the benefit of contact with somebody who has been through the same thing recently themselves.

4.)     If it works well, the idea is that successful Buddy pairs will continue for the duration of peoples’ training. We may expand the Buddy Scheme to a “family tree” structure, with new CT1s the following year joining an existing buddy scheme pairing, with the previous CT1 becoming a CT2 Buddy etc. This might later be expanded further to FY doctors and undergraduates.

5.)    The hope is that the scheme will be good for both Core and Higher trainees. In addition to the above benefits, more experienced buddies will gain informal experience in supporting colleagues as well as the benefits of improved peer networking.

6.)    The Buddy scheme sits aside from the existing formal support and supervision offered for trainees, with an emphasis on informal and flexible support networks between core and higher trainees. In case of any problems encountered which exceed the scope of the Buddy relationship there is a safety and accountability structure in place too with senior input available via Trainee Supervisors or via Dr David Cox, consultant psychiatrist based in Cornwall, Training Programme Director for Core Psychiatry Training.

7.)    Please email any queries about the scheme to Dr Alexander Hartley (ST5 Psychiatry and Buddy Scheme Lead)

Summary:

The Peninsula Buddy scheme is…

Designed to be fun and supportive.

A flexible and informal peer support network between Core and Higher Psychiatry Trainees.

Up to Core Trainees to tailor to their wishes and requirements.

Encouraged by the Deanery and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

With an accountability structure in place.

Likely to expand if working well and offer ongoing opportunities in peer support as well as benefits in supporting your own training experience.

The Buddy scheme is not…

Not supposed to replace existing support/supervision.

Not mandatory but encouraged!

Feedback from those who have utilised this scheme is available here.