In the current environment it is essential that we are responsive to changes to service delivery and training requirements, and that we continue to deliver examinations that are relevant to the needs of trainees, hospitals and patients, now and in the future.
We are now in the process of transformational change as part of our ambition to professionalise our organisation and upgrade the level of service we are able to give to candidates and to the clinicians who work with us. Our first priority is to ensure that the quality, standard and reputation of the exams are maintained and that these are recognised by the wider public, and by the profession.
Over the past 5 years we have been following an almost continuous programme of quality improvement.
Today our examinations are:
- An essential component of training for physicians in the UK
- Mapped to UK curricula
- Approved by the General Medical Council (GMC) as meeting the required standards
- Recognition of the MRCP(UK) examination as a requirement for entry to specialist training
- Responsive to changes in UK training
- Utilising new technology
- Evidence based and informed by the latest research.
To demonstrate the scale and pace of change in the examinations here are just a few examples of successful developments:
- Introduced 12 Specialty Certificate Examinations in collaboration with the specialist societies to ensure that certified specialists have sufficient knowledge of their specialty to practice safely and competently
- Changes to the eligibility criteria for the MRCP(UK) examination, making it more flexible for candidates and responsive to today’s shorter training pathway
- Examination questions and content are mapped to the UK curricula, demonstrating their fitness for purpose
- Widening access to the SCEs and removing the requirement for applicants to have the MRCP(UK) Diploma
- Ensuring exam consistency with the introduction of equating so that candidates get the same, fair exam regardless of when they take it
- Approval from the GMC for a prospective annual pass mark for PACES to enable release of results within 7 days of the exam and fit in with UK recruitment deadlines
- Changes to PACES to emphasise good communication and provide a more realistic interaction between doctor and patient, and a new skills-based marking system to give appropriate weight to the fundamental skills required of a physician
- Zero tolerance policy on cheating to protect candidates and maintain exam integrity
- Online applications and services for candidates to provide a faster and best quality service for busy clinicians
- An enhanced database to store over 30,000 exam questions and facilitate the production of high quality exams that reflect the content of UK curricula
- Approval for setting the standard of the Specialty Certificate Examination based on the level of knowledge required of a UK trainee to maintain the professional standard against which physicians working outside the UK can measure their level of attainment.