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GPs seek exam help for international doctors

GP leaders have suggested extra support and more chances to sit royal college membership exams could tackle low pass rates among international doctors.

In a letter to the RCGP (Royal College of GPs), GPC GP trainees subcommittee chair Krishna Kasaraneni highlights subcommittee concerns about the low pass rates for the RCGP membership exam among international medical graduates compared to their UK counterparts.

He identifies the CSA (clinical skills assessment) part of the exam as a particular issue.

Dr Kasaraneni suggests that some trainees could benefit from specifically tailored training to address areas of relative weakness.

He writes: ‘It may take a significant period of time for some trainees to adapt to the socio-linguistic norms that, for other trainees, require no work at all. The amount of time required for some trainees to adapt to these norms should be a consideration throughout the training process and in terms of how many times trainees are permitted to resit examinations.’

Reference for reform

Dr Kasaraneni suggests that all CSAs are videoed, ‘so that where concerns are raised, it is possible to revisit and analyse the examination’. An RCGP spokesperson said: ‘We are very grateful that the GP trainees subcommittee has shared its concerns with us directly. We are now considering the points made and will be responding directly.’

The RCGP discussed the issue last month with representatives of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and the British International Doctors Association.

A joint statement released after the meeting states: ‘All three parties acknowledged that there were a number of factors contributing to the lower pass rates of candidates with overseas primary medical qualifications. The college recognises the seriousness of the issues raised and some suggestions for further action have already been agreed.’

A further meeting, to include representatives from the GPC GP trainees subcommittee and the Committee of GP Education Directors, to agree the next steps on the issue will take place shortly. Research on the subject, being conducted by King’s College, London, will be published later this year.