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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Introducing the e-portfolio

With the e-portfolio set to go live on the RCGP website any day now, Dr Mandy Fry explains what to expect from this novel educational tool

With the e-portfolio set to go live on the RCGP website any day now, Dr Mandy Fry explains what to expect from this novel educational tool

The nMRCGP consists of 3 components; the AKT (applied knowledge test), the CSA (clinical skills assessment) and WPBA (workplace based assessment). The e-portfolio forms the cornerstone of WPBA and also acts as a portal for booking the other assessments.All registrars who commenced their training after 31 July will have to undertake the new assessments and have an e-portfolio. There are transitional arrangements for registrars who commenced their training before this date and some will have the option of doing either the old or new MRCGP.

Getting registered

To get started on your e-portfolio you need to register with the RCGP as soon as you start your training programme, or from this month if you are already in training. You will need your GMC number as well as a training number issued by your deanery. You can register online at the RCGP's website where you will be asked to pay an initial subscription fee and then set up a membership scheme as an Associate in Training (AiT).

It is not compulsory to become an AiT, you can choose just to register for the e-portfolio, which may be more relevant if you have been creating your own training scheme and are planning to apply to PMETB via Article 11. There are AiT packages for each level of entry (ST1-ST3) and these are all tax deductible expenses.

Since July 30 you have been able to register as an AiT (and book for the AKT and CSA) however it is likely that the e-portfolio will not be fully functional until mid August . There is however a test version you can familiarise yourself with – see the key facts box at the bottom of this page.

Who sees it

The e-portfolio is designed not only to provide structured evidence of completion of summative assessments but also as a formative educational tool. It is closely linked to the new GP curriculum and the 12 core competency areas.

It is your portfolio and you will be the only individual with full unlimited access to it. There are three other individuals who will have access to your e-portfolio but you can choose not to share all of your log entries with them (although it would seem sensible to share most, if not all of them). These are

• the Deanery administrator

• your educational supervisor

• your GP trainer (who may actually be your educational supervisor).

Your clinical supervisor, for the hospital component of your training, does not have access to the e-portfolio but will contribute to it by means of formal assessments, such as CBD (case based discussions) and a clinical supervisor's report (CSR).

Making it yours

There are many ways in which you can use the e-portfolio to aid you in your learning and to help you ensure that you are getting broad and balanced training for general practice.

Perhaps most obviously there are the formal assessments that you need to undertake, which will be familiar to those of you who have undertaken Foundation training in the UK. These are:

• COT (Consultation Observation Tool)

• mini-CEX – the secondary care equivalent of a COT

• CBD (Case Based Discussion)

• DOPS (Direct Observation of Procedural Skills)

• MSF (Multi-Source Feedback)

• PSQ (Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire)

The e-portfolio will enable you to keep track of these assessments so that you ensure that you are collecting the evidence needed for each stage of your training. With the exception of the MSF which goes to your educational supervisor first so as to maximise its formative benefit, these will all have been completed with you.

However the e-portfolio is much more useful than just that. It also enables you to keep a learning log which can be as broad and comprehensive as you want it to be! You can enter details of educational activities that you have been to and reflections on the learning outcomes, you can undertake self assessments of your learning needs and you can develop your own personal development plan. If and when you decide to share these entries they can also be seen by your educational supervisor which can then inform your educational reviews and the development of your ongoing educational plan. They can also be matched against the competency areas so that you can keep track of how well you are covering the GP curriculum, and identify any areas where you might need to address some educational needs.

Lifelong learning

The e-portfolio is designed to facilitate your learning and should help you to get into the practice of keeping good educational records and prepare you for a culture of lifelong learning.

For many experienced GPs the introduction of appraisal (and the prospect of revalidation) has challenged their perception of maintaining an educational portfolio and participating in lifelong learning. The e-portfolio will, if used to its full potential, help to get you into this practice which will be of enormous benefit to you during the rest of your professional career. It is however a new tool and your educational supervisor will be on an equally steep learning curve with you.

Dr Mandy Fry is GP VTS course organiser in Oxford and senior lecturer in primary care at Oxford Brookes University. She also works part time as a GP retainer in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.

Key points on the e-portfolio

* Belongs to the GP specialty trainee

* Is the cornerstone of the WPBA component of nMRCGP

* Acts as a booking portal for the other components of nMRCGP

* Is a formative educational tool as well as an assessment document

* Is a structured method of collecting evidence throughout an integrated programme of GP specialty training

* Has enormous potential in developing a culture of lifelong learning


Try out the e-portfolio at:www.nhseportfolios.org:8080/login.asp

username: rcgp_u
password: gpxtest

The registrar controls which parts of the e-portfolio will be made public e-portfolio

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