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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs nervous over screening push

Dr Mei Ling Denney on the importance of planning for the summative assessment written submission of practical work

Avoid topics where the potential for change lies outside the practice

This is the time of year when many doctors are getting settled in GP vocational training schemes, or in some cases a final year of general practice attachments. It is important to plan for the summative assessment written submission of practical work early on in general practice attachments to allow enough time for these to be undertaken.

It can be completed at any time during your three years of vocational training but submitted no later than three months before the end of the general practice based training year. Two options are available:

•An audit cycle

•A project marked under the National Project Marking Schedule (NPMS)

All GPs should be monitoring and improving the quality of care they provide. One of the ways of doing this is by audit. This article will focus on how to set about your audit project.

Choosing the topic

The topic must be relevant to general practice. Most registrars will therefore choose to start their audit during a general practice attachment, though this is not essential.

It should be considered important or significant – you will need to justify your choice. This might be because a significant event arose in the practice, or there was a patient complaint, or you noticed a deficiency in part of the clinical care of patients. There may be new guidance released by the Government that caused you to scrutinise your current practice.

It is a good idea to choose something that you are interested in, as you are likely to be spending many hours on it. It could either be a common problem, or one which is uncommon but has serious consequences.

Find an area where there is potential for a reasonable amount of change, otherwise there will be little you could describe under the changes to be evaluated. It is not a good idea to take as your topic an area where the practice is already performing at a high level – this may apply to some of the audits done under the QOF.

Can you effect a change in the time that you have to complete the audit cycle? Is it something within your power to change? Avoid topics where the potential for change lies outside the practice, unless you have great influence in the local hospital, say.

Involve the practice team from the start. After all, you have to show evidence of teamwork in your audit project. Do the others agree with your ideas and proposals? If not, there may be good reasons why, and you should re-examine your choice.

Mei Ling Denney is an examiner for the written submission of practical work for summative assessment

Take-home points

A good written submission is more likely if you:

• Allow adequate time

• Seek out resources and support from your trainer and the practice

• Keep it relevant and realistic

• Read the preparatory information regarding the format of the audit, criteria, number of words, anonymity, and so on

• Focus on the subject of the audit – the title is important here

• Examine the marking schedule to ensure that your audit meets all these criteria

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