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Becoming an examiner for the nMRCGP

nMRCGP – the new licensing test for general practice – will open up exciting opportunities for GPs to become examiners. Dr Mei Ling Denney explains why it's a challenge worth taking on

nMRCGP – the new licensing test for general practice – will open up exciting opportunities for GPs to become examiners. Dr Mei Ling Denney explains why it's a challenge worth taking on

If you have an interest in GP education, training or assessment, why not consider becoming an assessor for the nMRCGP clinical skills assessment (CSA). Current MRCGP examiners will be involved in seeing out the modules of the existing MRCGP exam, and recruitment for the existing role of MRCGP examiners has now ceased.

But examiners are now being transform-ed through further training into CSA assessors, as this is the component of the new MRCGP – available to registrars from October – that will have the greatest need for manpower.So why become an MRCGP assessor? Results of a survey sent out to existing members of the College Panel of Examiners in November 2006 showed the top three motivators for being examiners were:

• the ability to contribute to the development and maintenance of professional standards

• the opportunity to network and share ideas with other enthusiastic, like-minded GPs

• the personal stimulus of being involved in a challenging, exciting environment.

Other motivators, in decreasing order of importance, included being involved in a high-stakes exam, having the opportunity to be calibrated in their assessment of registrars, gaining from continuing professional development, and the prestige of being an MRCGP examiner.

The nMRCGP is currently recruiting new assessors for the CSA, and intends this to be from as broad a base as possible. It is not necessary to be a VIP in the college or in a deanery. Although a background in training and assessment is helpful, it is not essential, but having an idea of the expected standard of a GP registrar is certainly useful. If you are interested in becoming an assessor you should:

• be a member or fellow of the college in good standing

• have at least five years' experience in regular UK general practice

• be currently in active UK general practice, and likely to remain so for seven more years (three sessions a week of patient contact is regarded as the minimum).

Once you have decided you are interested in applying, you need to contact the college regarding application and selection. You will then be known as a potential new assessor (PNA). During the selection process, we will be looking to see that you have:

• a good knowledge base, relevant to general practice

• the ability to rank order – place differing candidate performances in an appropriate order of merit

• problem-solving skills

• teamworking ability

• a commitment to personal professional development

• organisational and planning skills.

If you think you possess these qualities, the next steps are to submit a nomination form with a CV and three references, sit and pass the MRCGP multiple-choice paper (unless you have done this very recently), and attend a PNA selection day.

The selection days are held every two or three months throughout 2007, and offer an opportunity to meet examiners and find out more about the role. In addition, there will be set tasks for you to do, largely in teams.

These involve problem solving, marking candidates and so on, and you will be observed by members of the selection panel while undertaking these tasks.If you are selected, you will be expected to attend a further training session in 2007 lasting two days.

The commitment to the CSA component of the exam is expected to involve 10-12 days of face-to-face examining per annum, your attendance probably being divided into about three sessions a year.

Networking

Current examiners benefit from and enjoy the annual examiners' conference, which lasts two days. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet up and work together, network and learn further skills, and is likely to continue for the CSA assessors.

As being an MRCGP examiner/assessor is a role that requires considerable commitment, you should discuss this both with the practice (or any other organisations that need to release you), and your nearest and dearest at home. The financial incentives are not overwhelming, with a per diem payment of £340. But once you become an MRCGP panel member, there are often other opportunities available to you, should you wish to increase your involvement. These include research, training of assessors, committee work, and work for the international department.More importantly, you are likely to return to your practice refreshed and enthusiastic, with many ideas for training and development. Because the commitment is often up to 15 days a year, some examiners take this out of practice time, and some may use some of their study or annual leave. You are advised to take this into account before applying.If you think you have the required qualities, and are able to commit the necessary time, please contact James Clark (administrator, nMRCGP) at jclark@rcgp.org.uk or RCGP, 1st floor, 19 Buckingham Street, London WC2N 6EF. More details are also available on the RCGP website.

  • Mei Ling Denney is an MRCGP examiner and involved in selection and training for the CSA – she works part-time as a GP in Peterborough

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