FAQs

Board Members

How much time will I need to commit?

Parts 1, 2 and Clinical Examining Board meetings are held three times a year; each SCE holds a board meeting once a year.

Written examining board meetings are held over two days. With some meetings starting at 08.30 h on day 1, you may need to stay at the venue the night before the meeting. You should expect the meeting to finish by 17.00 h on day 2. The clinical examining board meeting is one day.

Outside the board meetings, for the written examinations, you will be asked to review 20-30 questions before the meeting and bring your comments to the meeting.

You may also be asked to carry out ad-hoc activities, such as reviewing sample questions to ensure that they remain valid.

Is there a training programme for board members?

New board members are provided with a guidance document and invited to a half-day induction session. The induction includes:

  • understanding what examinations MRCP(UK) runs, how they are put together and the role of board members in this process
  • understanding the statistics and psychometric data MRCP(UK) produces and what to look out for
  • having a shared understanding of the whole examination process and expectations of all parties.
What are the eligibility requirements?

You need to be:

  • a Member or Fellow of one of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom
  • GMC registered with a licence to practise and in good standing
  • active in clinical practice within the last 2 years
  • currently involved in training with at least 2 years' experience
  • up-to-date with employer appraisal process
  • up-to-date with equality and diversity training
  • a physician interested in, but not necessarily expert in, medical assessment.
What are the responsibilities of a board member?

Board members assist the Chair and Medical Secretary in the running, development and delivery of the examinations. This includes: 

  • ensuring that all academic objectives and standards set by the General Medical Council are met
  • attending Board meetings to set examination papers
  • reviewing candidate performance in recent examinations.
What happens if I am unable to attend a board meeting?

For the written examinations, if you cannot attend an examining board meeting, you may still be required to review 20-30 questions and submit your comments.

Attendance is monitored and if you miss two consecutive meetings, without extenuating circumstances, your membership may be reviewed and you may be asked to give up your position.

Question Writers

How can I become a question writer?

You should email your CV and expression of interest to mrcpsqgquestions@mrcpuk.org. You will be contacted once there is a suitable vacancy.

How many questions will I be asked to produce before each question-writing meeting?

The number of new questions will vary depending on the work of the group which may include reviewing existing banked questions.

On average SGQ members will be asked to compose 10-12 questions before each meeting, divided between part 1 and part 2.

QWG members will be asked to compose between 12-15 SCE questions before the meeting.

How much time will I need to commit?

Parts 1 & 2 question writing meetings are held twice a year currently in May and November; each SCE holds a question writing meeting once per year.

The meetings are held over two days, starting at 10.00 h on day 1 and the meeting should finish by 17.00 h on day 2.

Is there any training for question writers?

Yes. Question writers are invited to attend a one-day training workshop in London before attending their first meeting. In addition, a question writing manual is provided for guidance. 

What are the eligibility requirements?

You need to be:

  • a Member or Fellow of one of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom
  • GMC registered with a licence to practise and in good standing
  • active in clinical practice within the last 2 years
  • currently involved in training with at least 2 years' experience
  • up-to-date with employer appraisal process
  • up-to-date with equality and diversity training
  • a physician interested in, but not necessarily expert in, medical assessment.
What happens if I cannot attend a question-writing meeting

If you are not able to attend a question-writing meeting, any questions that you have produced will be reviewed in your absence although you will miss a valuable learning opportunity. If time is pressing, your questions may not be reviewed and may be held over until you can next attend a meeting.

Attendance is monitored. If you are unable to attend or provide questions on two consecutive occasions, without extenuating circumstances, your membership may be reviewed and you may be asked to give up your position.

PACES Examiners

Can I use scenarios for training purposes?

Examiners must not use scenarios from the PACES examination for their own training courses. The exception to this is a selection of Station 2 and 4 scenarios, which have been ‘retired’ from active use in the examination. These are suitable for training purposes and are available on request from MRCP(UK) Central Office email: station2and4@mrcpuk.org

Sample scenarios are also available on the website

How can I become a PACES examiner?

If you are interested in becoming a PACES Examiner you should apply to your parent College. The PACES Examiner Application form is available to download.

Once accepted, you will have the option to examine at centres run by any of the three Royal Colleges of Physicians.

How can I stay compliant?

You are required to:

  • be involved in clinical medicine in an inpatient or outpatient setting within the last 2 years
  • provide clinical supervision to core medical trainees (or equivalent) in the care of patients with a range of conditions assessed in PACES
  • have had equality and diversity training in the past 3 years
  • have been through an annual formal appraisal process in your current post
  • be up to date with your CPD
  • commit to examining at least six cycles (30 candidates) per annum.

On appointment as a PACES examiner you are making a commitment to meet the standards required by MRCP(UK) throughout your term of service and your College is committed to supporting you to achieve these standards. If your status changes you should notify the College you examine for as soon as possible.

How much time is involved in examining PACES?

Each examiner must spend a minimum of 2/3 days examining per year - that is carry out examining duties or examine at least six cycles per annum (averaged over 2 years). If you are unable to take part in the required number of cycles over 2 years you must refresh your examiner training.

What are PACES examiner eligibility requirements?

The following requirements are essential on appointment and will remain as requirements throughout the examiner’s term of service. You must:

  • (UK only) hold MRCP(UK)
  • be a Fellow or Collegiate Member in good standing of one of the UK Colleges of Physicians. Collegiate Members must have achieved the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) at least 2 years prior to applying, and be in a substantive (or equivalent) consultant post and must demonstrate awareness of the training standard required of the candidates. Physicians resident outside the UK who wish to examine in the UK must hold Fellowship of one of the UK Colleges of Physicians
  • have had ongoing involvement in clinical medicine in an inpatient or outpatient setting within the last 2 years
  • have routine clinical responsibility for the assessment, investigation, and management of a broad range of clinical conditions assessed in PACES
  • provide clinical supervision to core medical trainees (or equivalent) in the care of patients with a range of conditions assessed in PACES
  • have undergone equality and diversity training in the past 3 years
  • be prepared to commit to examining at least 6 cycles (30 candidates) per annum
  • be on the Medical Register (or international equivalent) and hold a licence to practise
  • (UK only) participate in revalidation, including annual appraisal in your current post, and adherence to CPD requirements.
What happens if I know a candidate on my circuit?

The Colleges consider that examiners are capable of assessing any candidate in the examination fairly, consistently and without prejudice.

If you become aware, before the examination day, that a relative is due to be examined in a centre where you will be acting as an examiner, you should notify the organising College.

You may encounter candidates who have worked with you previously. In this situation, it is entirely permissible for you to assess the candidate.

If you believe that foreknowledge of a candidate might compromise your ability to assess the candidate fairly, or would prefer not to examine a candidate for any reason, you should indicate this to the 11th Examiner, who will step in as a substitute examiner. 

What training is required to become a PACES examiner?

You will receive training through observing and shadowing a PACES assessment. The host and chair of examiners will take you through the training day which includes attending the examiner briefing and calibration.

In preparation for training, we advise you to:

  • read the latest version of the PACES Examiner Omnibus – the ‘handbook’ for examiners, providing all the information you need for examining
  • watch the PACES Examiner Videos on YouTube – these videos are designed to give you an overview of the different procedures involved in PACES.

You might also find it useful to have a look at the following examples of materials you will use on the day:

PACES Hosts

Can I re-use scenarios from a previous diet?

The re-use of Station 5 scenarios is permitted, however, at least half your scenarios should be newly written for each diet. Please let your college administrator know which scenarios you plan to re-use.

Can I use a patient who cannot speak English?

Communication aspects of the case can be undertaken by a relative (or surrogate relative) who speaks English and knows (or learns) the relevant history and can relay this, and who will ask questions as if they were the patient.

The use of a translator is not permissible as this would significantly lengthen communications and would make the consultation unachievable within 8 minutes.  

Can I use actors as surrogate patients?

Surrogates with no physical signs can, on occasion, be used to play the part of a patient. The use of surrogates without physical signs should be minimised and there should never be a situation where both Station 5 scenarios involve surrogates with no physical signs.

What do I do if I see an examiner behaving inappropriately?

If you are concerned about the conduct or performance of a fellow examiner this should be brought to the attention of the examiner in question, or, confidentially, to the host or the Chair of Examiners on the day, or the Senior Examiner of the hosting college.

MRCP(UK) relies on the professionalism and commitment of a large number of members and fellows of the Royal Colleges of Physicians to deliver PACES. You are expected to follow the code of conduct.  This provides a framework against which allegations of misconduct will be judged. 

What resources do I need to host PACES?

There are several areas you need to consider such as staff, sufficient space and time.

From the top level you will require:

  • agreement from relevant trust officials to provide space and time to host the examination
  • a minimum of one MRCP(UK) PACES examiner on site to act as the official ‘host’ or lead examiner. Clinicians who are not examiners can be heavily involved in the organisation of the examination but the official examiner will be recognised as the lead as they have completed necessary training and signed up to relevant codes.
  • availability of an administrator(s) to assist with organisation.

Staff and facilities required:

  • sufficient number of patients to run three cycles of the examination per day for two days; (Stations 2 and 4 are based on scenarios that can be performed by actors)
  • relevant equipment
  • sufficient space.

The total cost of the examination will be covered by your affiliate college. Expenses that are expected to be incurred include the following:

  • centre venue hire
  • catering
  • cost of nursing staff
  • administration costs
  • patient gifts.

PACES Scenario Writers

For how long can you be a member of the Scenario Writing Group?

The tenure for consultant members is five years. Subject to mutual agreement with the Chair individual tenure may be extended by up to a maximum of five years to ensure orderly succession planning.

The tenure for trainee members is three years, however, this will end upon completion of specialist training or appointment as a consultant. 

How can I become a member of the Scenario Writing Group?

Vacancies for the Scenario Writing Group (SWG) will be advertised on the MRCP(UK) website. Where there are no advertised vacancies you can also submit an expression of interest to station2and4@mrcpuk.org. You will be contacted if there is a suitable vacancy.

How often does the Scenario Writing Group meet and what happens at the meetings?

The group meets twice a year, usually in the Spring and Autumn. Scenario writers are asked to submit three new scenarios several months ahead of each meeting. At the meeting, members work in sub-groups to review each other’s scenarios.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Applicants should meet the following criteria to be a member of the Scenario Writing Group:

  • hold the MRCP(UK) or an equivalent postgraduate diploma
  • be registered with a licence to practice and in good standing on the GMC register
  • be up-to-date as appropriate with relevant national guidelines, CPD requirements, employer’s equality and diversity training and appraisal process
  • be able to attend the meetings of the SWG (one meeting annually) and take on work between the meetings.

Expenses

How do I claim my expenses back?

For examining board and question-writing activities and PACES examining outside the UK, you should register on the Royal College of Physicians of London online expenses system.

For PACES examining in the UK claim expenses from your parent college

What can I claim on expenses?
  • air travel in UK
  • air travel outside UK (only for examiners going to examine at international centres) 
  • rail travel
  • car mileage
  • accommodation and meals.

For specific details for PACES check with the colleges you are examining for.

What do I need in order to claim my expenses?

For all examiner activities, please submit both your claim and receipts to the relevant college

What is the time limit for claiming expenses?

All expenses must be claimed within 6 months for the Edinburgh and London Colleges and 3 months for Glasgow. Expenses submitted after this period will be paid only in exceptional circumstances.

CPD

How many CPD points do I get for attending a question-writing or board meeting?

You will receive 6 CPD credits for each full day attendance at a board or question-writing meeting, up to a maximum of 12 per year.

The first 12 credits from MRCP(UK) activities will be counted as external credits and the remaining credits counted as personal credits. All trainee activities must be counted as personal credits.

How many CPD points do I get for examining?

MRCP(UK) Clinical Examination Examiners are awarded 2 CPD credits per PACES cycle.

MRCP(UK) Clinical Examination Trainee Examiners are awarded 6 CPD credits for a full day’s attendance (three PACES cycles).

When will I receive my CPD certificate?

The CPD year runs from 1 April to the 31 March, you will receive your CPD certificate via email in June/July of that year.

Who do I contact if I have any queries?

If you have any queries about how to add your CPD credits for MRCP(UK) please contact your College

If you have a question about the number of credits awarded please email MRCP(UK) at: cpd.queries@mrcpuk.org

General Information

Can I be involved in commercial courses?

PACES examiners, members of Question Writing Groups, Examining Boards and Standard Setting Groups may not take part in commercially run (i.e. for profit) training courses. If a non-examiner takes part in such courses and then becomes an examiner, it is on the understanding that this activity will not be continued.

Examiners must not write or contribute to non-college books or other materials, or to re-edit or revise existing texts or other publications whose specific purpose is to help candidates prepare for any or all parts of the MRCP(UK) examination or Specialty Certificate Examinations.

How many boards can I be a member of?

There is no limit to the number of MRCP(UK) boards to which you can belong. However, it is important that you have the time required to commit to each role, and support from your employer to attend the necessary meetings, so you are able to participate fully. 

What type of leave should I request for attending MRCP(UK) boards, meetings or examining activities?

You should apply for professional study leave. Leave for the Royal Colleges of Physicians’ activities is supported by the four chief medical officers of the UK.

Will I be allowed leave to attend the meetings?

Meetings and examinations are arranged almost a year in advance, so you will be able to give your employer plenty of notice. Your clinical director will be aware of the importance of postgraduate examinations in driving learning and fostering high quality clinical care. Provided your other commitments that require your absence from the Trust or Board are not too numerous, you should have no difficulty justifying the leave required.

Please contact your college if there are problems with leave requests.