As an advanced trainee in forensic psychiatry, you have 1 day a week personal development time, which you can use flexibly to gain experience and develop competencies away from your substantive clinical placement. You will split this, during the course of your training, between clinical special interest sessions and non-clinical activities such as research, teaching and management experience. There is great flexibility in how you use this time and you should think and plan creatively and carefully; you will need to discuss with and gain the approval of your trainer and the TPD. It is important to make sure you use this productively, because you will have to account for the time at your ARCPs.
When you are to start a new area or project you should set out and agree your learning objectives with your supervisor, so that you can subsequently demonstrate progression at your ARCP.
Clinical Special Interest Sessions
Clinical special interest sessions are defined as "a clinical or clinically related area of service which cannot be provided within the core training post, but which is of direct relevance to the prospective career pathway of the trainee". (RCPsych, 2009). Common areas for forensic trainees include specialised secure or forensic services, such as those for children and adolescents, patients with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, or brain injury; and areas of general psychiatry such as addictions, or neuropsychiatry. But the range of possibilities within the West Midlands, in NHS services but also sometimes with other providers, is very wide.
As a trainee in forensic psychiatry you cannot obtain endorsements in other clinical subspecialties, because you are required to spend all 3 years working in substantive forensic placements and special interest sessions do not count towards endorsements.
Some trainees use a proportion of their personal development time to study for a higher degree, usually a taught Masters in a subject related to forensic psychiatry, often mental health law or medical law, criminology, or medical education. Usually these are distance learning courses, so they can be undertaken flexibly.
Such courses of study can be a very valuable learning experience, increasing your knowledge of a particular subject area and giving you a broader understanding of the approach taken by another discipline or profession. This does inevitably depend on how much time and effort the learner puts in; most will demand more time than can be reasonably provided by your personal development time.
Completing such course also provides evidence of other important characteristics such as personal organisation; ability to work to deadlines; written English skills; and so on. However there are many other in which these attributes can be demonstrated too.
It is possible to use your study leave allowance to contribute towards the cost of such courses, although you will need to balance this with other demands on your study budget during your training.