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GP training gets tougher as pass rates fall under new exam

By Nigel Praities

Completing general practice training has become tougher after introduction of the new MRCGP exam last year, figures obtained by Pulse from the RCGP reveal.

Pass rates were 81% for the clinical skills assessment and 86% for the applied knowledge test of the new MRCGP, which was made compulsory for all those wishing to enter general practice from August 2007.

This compares with overall pass rates of over 90% for the Certificate of Completion of Training in General Practice, the ‘summative assessment', that the new exam replaced.

GP trainers told Pulse low pass rates for the new exam had initially caused concern.

Dr Paul Johnson, a GP in Whitby and a GP Tutor at the Yorkshire Deanery, said not ‘everyone was a fan' of the exam, but that pass rates had now gone up.

‘In the first sitting of the CSA in October there was quite a high failure rate, but that may have been because there was an unusual cohort of candidates who had elected to go down this new route,' he said.

Trainers became concerned when trials in 2006 showed nearly a third of trainees had to retake the CSA component, which costs £1,400 each time. Unease about the funding and workload of the new MRCGP were also raised at the LMCs conference last month.

Dr Bill Reith, chair of the RCGP Postgraduate Training Board, said although introduction of the exam had been a ‘huge endeavour' for the college, it had gone relatively smoothly.

‘There will always be wrinkles when bringing in a new process. With this being the first year of the new assessment, trainers were a little uncertain in terms of coaching their trainees because they were not familiar with it.'

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