As a paid up Associate in Training (AiT) of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) we recently had an email from the Chairman of the AiT Committee about the fees AiT members pay to the college.
It wasn’t clear reading the email what changes might actually be proposed, and the press release is equally opaque. There is mention of ‘re-aligning’ of fees and the possibility of some examination fees being reduced to AiT members. There is not actually any mention of whether the fees are actually going to go up or down. Forgive me for being cynical but I can’t help but think this means the fees are going to increase – especially when I see words like ‘re-aligned’ being used.
I am not quite sure why I joined as an AiT – I think it was a combination of the promise of reduced exam fees and a feeling that it was the done thing.
It’s true that I will pay £405 less in exam fees for my MRCGP (assuming success first time round) than a non-member.
It’s also true that I can offset the AiT fees against tax.
But I pay £1,229 over the three years for these benefits. What do I get for my remaining £824? The fees offer:
- discounts on books and resources (not used)
- invitations to AiT events (can’t remember any of these)
- representation locally and nationally (impossible to put a price on that one)
- discounted exam fees (I pay £3 for each £1 discount)
- subscription to InnovAiT and RCGP journals (the InnovAiT journal is well written and relevant)
- access to the online RCGP learning environment (which I have used and not found terribly useful).
Of all these I think representation of AiTs within the College and the InnovAiT journal are the only ones I really benefit from. I am proud to be a (junior) member of the RCGP – especially when I see and hear Clare Gerada fighting the corner for General Practice but I am not sure I benefit to the tune of £824, especially when added to yearly GMC and BMA fees.
I am interested to hear the outcome of the discussions regarding the AiT fees – I am not convinced an increase in fees can be justified.
If they are increased, I would suggest that future GP trainees at least think a bit more carefully, about becoming an AiT member than I did, before they sign on the direct debit dotted line.
Dr Michael Kilshaw is an ST2, living and working in Cheltenham. He can be found on Twitter @docmike79.