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Career taster: nMRCGP examiner

This week Dr Ruth Chapman finds out what it takes for a salaried doctor to become an examiner for the nMRCGP

This week Dr Ruth Chapman finds out what it takes for a salaried doctor to become an examiner for the nMRCGP

Why it's on my job menu

I think it is fair to say that becoming an examiner for the general practice professional exam carries with it a certain amount of kudos. You are required to have a good knowledge base for the job and it reinforces the feeling of being part of the profession.

It is the clinical skills assessment (CSA) part of the nMRCGP that you would be assessing as an examiner. This involves a time commitment of 10-12 days a year (consisting of three-day stretches at a time). The examination days take place in Croydon, near London, which has good access to transport (trains to London and Gatwick Airport).

You spend each day in a team with the same actor ‘patient' and case throughout, assessing the consultation skills of a ‘production line' of candidates. The doctor I spoke to said it was ‘incredibly well organised' and that she felt there was a ‘sense of camaraderie' within the group.

Skills/traits needed

The MRCGP website gives a list of what is required. You need to have MRCGP and five years of experience working in general practice (minimum three sessions/week). Other attributes required are ‘good problem solving skills' and ‘the ability to rank order'. You are not required to be a GP partner for the job – the college recruits its assessors ‘from as broad a base as possible'.

Necessary training

Self-nomination to the college with three appropriate references is necessary. You are required to sit the MCQ part of the exam and then spend a whole day being assessed by other examiners.

This assessment day for potential new examiners (PNA) involves you being assessed in small group work and some marking of written papers. If the college feels you have the skills to make a good examiner, you then go on to attend two days of training workshops. The job is initially for two years followed by a review and then may extend to a further five years.


My colleague found three days – and two nights – away at a time difficult with her young family. It is also necessary to attend an examiners' conference, in February, once a year.

Pay rate

My colleague felt the work was badly paid – £357 a day.

Job satisfaction rating…three stars

My colleague enjoyed the work and found it exciting to be part of the new exam right from the start. She felt that as a trainer herself it gave her a good insight into what is expected of a GP trainee. However, she felt that the time commitment was considerable and the pay poor.

Find out more

Dr Ruth Chapman

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