A new exam that will see GP trainees being assessed virtually in their own practice, with actors playing the role of patients, will be rolled out for the first time in November, the RCGP has confirmed.
In July 2020, the college rolled out the RCA as the third component of the MRCGP in place of the clinical skills assessment (CSA) to enable trainees to complete their training programmes and enter general practice, given the restrictions and disruption caused by the pandemic.
While the CSA had required all trainees to be assessed in person at the RCGP in London, currently candidates have to submit recordings of 13 consultations, which cover a number of mandatory criteria, with marks are given in three domains – data gathering, clinical management and interpersonal skills.
Now the RCGP has confirmed it received approval from the GMC to replace the RCA with the Simulated Consultation Assessment (SCA), which will involve twelve simulated consultations, each lasting 12 minutes, which will be conducted remotely in the trainee’s local surgery.
The RCGP said that the cases will be performed by ‘professional role-players who are trained, calibrated and standardised’ so that although the cases appear the same for every trainee, the exam ‘responds to the approach of each individual doctor,’ as in real life.
The cases will be featuring patients, their carer or parent, or other health or social care workers, and will be based on telephone consultations.
In the majority of cases, trainees will be able to see the simulated patient, while others will be audio only, and there will be a three-minute gap in between each case.
The RCGP said that ‘it is recognised that GP consultations do not follow a single model’, as they are ‘complex, with many factors interacting in unpredictable ways’ and that the new assessment recognises this variability.
The new exam will be sat during the ST3 training year and delivered across nine months of the year, with the first exam session to take place in the week commencing on 6 November.
Physical examination will not be assessed within the SCA and will be covered within WPBA.
Last month, GP trainees feared their preparation for the RCA part of their MRCGP exams would have gone to waste due to the college underestimating demand.
The college had changed booking slots at short notice for when candidates could apply and submit their assessments due to very high demand and ‘a logistics issue’.
The RCGP then said all GP trainees who need to take the recorded consultation assessment (RCA) part of their MRCGP exam will now be able to.