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Empowering healthcare professionals to return to work through simulation training: addressing psychosocial needs
  1. Aleks Saunders1,2,
  2. John Brooks3,
  3. Wathik El Alami3,
  4. Zaina Jabur1,
  5. Colette Laws-Chapman3,
  6. Marcella Schilderman1,
  7. Camilla Tooley1,
  8. Chris Attoe1,2
  1. 1 Maudsley Simulation, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. 2 Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, London, UK
  3. 3 Simulation and Interactive Learning Centre, Guy's and Saint Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Aleks Saunders, Maudsley Simulation, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK; Aleks.Saunders{at}

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In the UK, 10% of trainee doctors are out of clinical practice at any given time, for reasons including personal health, carer duties, further education, research and parental leave.1

Doctors report that leaving work often invokes feelings of isolation and sadness, as well as concerns around a lack of support from colleagues and organisations, and even negative views from their families.1 Self-stigmatisation sees doctors internalise negative views about themselves, promoting self-esteem issues and a lack of help-seeking behaviour, which also relates to the constructs of personal and professional identity.2 Addressing and tackling the barriers related to returning to work is not only beneficial for a doctor’s well-being but for patient care too. One systematic review found that doctors with higher occupational well-being adhere more to treatment guidelines, are more optimistic and helpful, and direct more attention to patient’s psychosocial health.3

Although programmes exist to support returning doctors, there is a shortage of evidence-based interventions. This report outlines a training intervention and subsequent evaluation for returning healthcare professionals, in which they can develop their clinical skills and needs as well as their own psychosocial skills and needs.


Training course

The 4-day course aimed to update doctors returning to work on their clinical skills and knowledge, while creating an open space to address personal and psychosocial needs regarding returning (see table 1 for learning activities and scenarios). The course was delivered in a simulation centre in South London, with each day lasting approximately 8 hours, by a multiprofessional faculty of clinical educators and simulation experts, including doctors, nurses and …

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