Background: This article reports on the findings of a workshop held at the joint 5th World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA) Africa and 20th National Family Practitioners Conference in Tshwane, South Africa, in 2017. Postgraduate training for family medicine in Africa takes place in the clinical workspace at the bedside or next to the patient in the clinic, district hospital or regional hospital. Direct supervisor observation, exchange of reflection and feedback, and learning conversations between the supervisor and the registrar are central to learning and assessment processes.
Objectives: The aim of the workshop was to understand how family medicine registrars (postgraduate trainees in family medicine) in Africa learn in the workplace.
Methods: Thirty-five trainers and registrars from nine African countries, the United Kingdom, United States and Sweden participated. South Africa was represented by the universities of Cape Town, Limpopo, Pretoria, Sefako Makgatho, Stellenbosch, Walter Sisulu and Witwatersrand.
Results: Six major themes were identified: (1) context is critical, (2) learning style of the registrar and (teaching style) of the supervisor, (3) learning portfolio is utilised, (4) interactions between registrar and supervisor, (5) giving and receiving feedback and (6) the competence of the supervisor.
Conclusion: The training of family physicians across Africa shares many common themes. However, there are also big differences among the various countries and even programmes within countries. The way forward would include exploring the local contextual enablers that influence the learning conversations between trainees and their supervisors. Family medicine training institutions and organisations (such as WONCA Africa and the South African Academy of Family Physicians) have a critical role to play in supporting trainees and trainers towards developing local competencies which facilitate learning in the clinical workplace dominated by service delivery pressures.