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A guide to your medical appraisal

Use this guidance to help you understand the process of a medical appraisal and how to get the most out of it.

What is a medical appraisal?
Three stages of an appraisal
Model appraisal forms
Appraiser selection, training and capacity
Useful resources

What is a medical appraisal?

An annual appraisal and supporting evidence are key to demonstrating your fitness to practise whatever your branch of practice. A medical appraisal is also a key opportunity to focus on your professional development needs.

A medical appraisal is a process of facilitated self-review supported by information gathered from the full scope of a doctor's work.

Medical appraisal can be used for a number of purposes, including:

  1. To reflect on an individual's practice and performance with their appraiser in order to demonstrate that they remain up to date and fit to practise
  2. To help doctors plan their professional development
  3. To identify learning needs
  4. To ensure doctors are working in line with the organisational priorities

The appraisal process is an important source for agreeing and monitoring personal development objectives.

Whilst it interacts with the job planning process, the two should be kept separate in order to mitigate any conflicts of interest.


Different groups of doctors

The GMC framework for appraisal and revalidation sets out the broad areas that all doctors are expected to address and the responsibilities of both doctors and employers in the process, but there are some differences:

Junior doctors
Doctors in training will revalidate through the Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) and will not need to participate in the appraisal process as described in this guidance.

Clinical academics
Clinical academic staff follow the same appraisal process outlined in this guide. However, as they are employed by both the NHS and a higher education institute - a set of principles have been agreed to integrate the responsibilities of both parties in appraisal, disciplinary and reporting arrangements.

Sessional GPs
A recent survey made it clear that many sessional GPs require further support with the appraisal and revalidation process. We have provided suggestions on how to tackle many of the problems sessional GPs face and possible solutions that aim to make it a more manageable and positive experience. 
Read our tips for sessional GPs


Appraisal and revalidation

Revalidation is the process by which licensed doctors demonstrate they remain up to date and fit to practise. Revalidation is based both on strengthened clinical governance processes and regular appraisal.

Effective appraisals that satisfy the GMC's requirements will form the basis for the Responsible Officer's recommendation on an individual's fitness to practise.

Whilst most doctors will receive a positive recommendation, ROs have a responsibility to inform the GMC of any concerns about a doctor's fitness to practise, a doctor's refusal to engage with the process, or the need for a deferral.

It is important that these issues are addressed as they arise and not solely when the revalidation recommendation is due.

Information iconMake sure you are prepared for your revalidation - visit our revalidation area


Additional training

BMJ Learning presents modules which will complement appraisal activity. Full details:

Getting the most out of your appraisal 

Challenge in medical appraisal


Latest news

Chair of BMA Scottish council Peter Bennie wrote to the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorate to raise concerns around the security of the IT system currently used to support appraisal for doctors in Scotland, the Scottish Online Appraisal Resource (SOAR).

Read the letter (PDF)

Are you a junior doctor?

Junior doctors must follow specific appraisal processes known as the:

  • Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP)
  • Record of In-Training Assessment (RITA)

Read our FAQs available to BMA members

Need advice on revalidation?

Make sure you keep up to date with our specialist guidance

Find out what you need to be prepared