Dr Julie Pattinson from the University of Lincoln presented her prizewinning paper, which was awarded the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Research Paper of the Year 2019 in Medical Education, at this year’s RCGP online conference. The conference: A fresh approach to General Practice, took place on 11-12th February 2021, and Julie presented in the winner’s enclosure session on the first day of the event.
The study, ‘Exploring reasons for differences in performance between UK and international medical graduates in the Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners Applied Knowledge Test: a cognitive interview study‘ explored the reasons for differences in candidate performance in medical licensing examinations such as Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP) between International and UK medical graduates. The study found that real life experience was better than the classroom, clinical exposure to specialties (e.g. ophthalmology) or specialty topics helped, while textbook learning and memorisation were helpful for rare diagnoses. Recent and repeated exposure was helpful but there was limited opportunity for gaining experience where gender barriers, uncommon presentations, or data interpretation and statistics were involved. Topics considered less relevant to general practice were less well answered. Overconfidence sometimes led to inaccurate self evaluation.
Cultural barriers including lack of familiarity with the NHS, national (NICE) guidance, abbreviations and exam formats. All candidates found difficulties answering certain questions which may be addressed through training. International graduates faced additional difficulties due to differences in educational experience, content familiarity and language barriers – all potentially amenable to additional training support.