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Scotland Deanery

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Trainee information

STEP Programme (Scottish Trainee Enhanced Programme)

The STEP (Scottish Trainee Enhanced Programme) is normally a full day event, however, during the current pandemic is being held virtually over two half days, held twice a year in Scotland. STEP is targeted at International Medical Graduates. It has been running since 2014 and offers trainees an early insight into challenges they might face in GP training within the UK. During the day, through workshops and small group discussions, trainees can explore their own strengths and weaknesses and gain insight into predictors of success. Educational supervisors are encouraged to attend along with their trainee. 

So that the trainees do not miss out on this valuable opportunity, the STEP team delivered an online (via MS Teams) event during the month of July 2020. The event, usually delivered as a whole day, was split into 2 afternoon sessions and each session was delivered twice in order to help attendance. The topics covered over the 2 sessions were:

Session A:

  • Differential Attainment- Key Facts
  • Culture and Transition
  • Reflection and e-Portfolio
  • Session B:
  • AKT- Key facts
  • Communication Skills
  • Success Factors and Helpful Interventions

Dates for future events:

Dates have now been confirmed for the STEP event for February start IMG GPST's as follows:

  1. Tuesday the 9th March: 1300-1700hrs Session A
  2. Thursday the 11th March: 1300-1700 hrs Session B

Attendance at one of each of the sessions is required.



    The STEP (Scottish Trainee Enhanced Programme) is normally a full day event held twice a year in Scotland. However, due to the current pandemic we are currently holding this remotely over two half days.  STEP is targeted at International Medical Graduates (IMG’s- trainees who’s Primary Medical Qualification has been outside the UK). It offers trainees an early insight into challenges they might face in GP training within the UK. In a very supportive environment, trainees are introduced to reasons why IMGs may have a higher failure rate in AKT, CSA and WPBA. During the day, through workshops and small group discussions, trainees can explore their own strengths and weaknesses and also gain insight into useful predictors of success.

    STEP has been running successfully since 2014. Differential Attainment (lower pass rates amongst IMGs) has been a key priority area for the GMC, the RCGP and Scotland Deanery. There is plenty of evidence that early intervention programmes like STEP lead to better outcomes. Across the UK, there are now established early intervention programmes like STEP. Various key stakeholders have committed significant investment into this area and outcomes are continually being evaluated.


    The half day events run from 1.00 pm until 5.00 pm.  The day consists of workshops on Culture and Transition, Communication Skills and Reflection. There are also small group discussions on individual journeys, positive factors, e Portfolio and linguistic exercises. Previous trainees share their experiences/success factors via video recordings.

    Trainees can expect a supportive environment where they will be treated with respect and understanding. Respect for confidentiality is paramount during small group and individual discussions. Trainees can expect a dedicated and enthusiastic presence of the STEP team which consists of experienced educators and facilitators from across Scotland, some of whom are also RCGP examiners.


    Some feedback statements received so far-

    • ‘Helpful to openly discuss IMG issues with my trainee’
    • ‘Important for trainees to have the ES present and support them, understand the issues so we can support them better’
    • ‘Good to attend with trainee- it strengthened our relationship and I understood the challenges faced by my trainee, everyone’s journey is different’
    • ‘That is definitely a strength of this course. I think this was an excellent idea’
    • IMG journeys/stories were inspirational for ES’s and therapeutic for trainees


    Here’s what the trainees thought-

    • ‘I talked about things I have never spoken to anyone about before
    • ‘Felt my perceived disadvantage of being an IMG was resolved as the day went on’
    • ‘Very useful, made me feel welcome and felt encouraged, thank you for the effort taken’
    • ‘Videos and tips from recently successful IMG’s made me realise the task ahead, increased my motivation’
    • Stats were an eye opener but not surprised or disappointed, it’s just I need to work harder

    Trainees should apply for Study Leave in the usual manner.

    ESs can claim 2 sessions for attending STEP along with travel and subsistence fees as per NES policies.

    It is highly recommended that the ES attends even if they have previously attended another STEP event. Trainers have indicated every STEP programme has been unique. If the ES still cannot attend, then we would strongly encourage the second ES/Trainer to attend and share information with the ES.

    STEP is held once usually around November (for the August starts) and once around May (for the February starts). Besides it also gives trainees and ES’s another chance to attend if they couldn’t attend the first time.