We know that we need to continually evolve our high-quality education and training to make sure our members stay at the forefront of clinical care and continue to lead the specialty.
One of our key achievements last year was the introduction of lay assessors to the Part 3 MRCOG clinical assessment, an exam which places increased emphasis on skills relating to communications and making the patient feel at ease, as well as patient safety, information collection and applied clinical knowledge.
Developing non-clinical skills
We launched the first of a suite of optional training modules that recognise the importance of developing professional, non-clinical skills. The Advanced Professional Module (APM) in Clinical Research, which can be undertaken at any stage during a career, gives professionals in non-academic posts the chance to develop a specialised understanding of research governance and will increase the knowledge and participation of O&G specialists in clinical research. Other doctors on different career paths can also take this APM. Work is starting on developing other APMs and, if they are successful in the UK, we hope to extend this training to other global centres.
Progress on new curriculum
Our comprehensive project to renew and refresh the core curriculum is on track, with the first draft of the curriculum and assessment framework due to be completed in December 2017. The review, which will ensure our trainee doctors build up their non-technical and core clinical skills from the beginning of their specialty training, has already resulted in changes to the curriculum in relation to perinatal mental health and female genital mutilation.
Improving skills overseas
We are delighted with the progress of our Advanced Fellowship Programme, which is taking our Advanced Training Skills Modules into new areas overseas. We have approved eight hospitals in Saudi Arabia, India, Malaysia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who are all undertaking the Maternal Medicine and Acute Gynaecology and Early Pregnancy modules.
As well as our own packages of care, we continued to work with partners to deliver other relevant training. In 2016, we ran two courses with the Royal College of Surgeons, providing surgical training in obstetrics and gynaecology for use in humanitarian disaster zones. These were aimed at surgeons on the UK Trauma Register and those from crisis-hit areas of the world.
Committed to life-long learning
As leaders of the profession, it’s essential that we continue to improve and evolve the life-long education available to members. Our continuing professional development (CPD) programme is undergoing a major review and will be re-launched in 2018. The aim is to create a programme that supports the various ways specialists learn in the digital age and recognises the extended roles our members undertake above and beyond their clinical expertise. During 2016, the Professional Development Committee developed a new CPD Framework and this will be followed by a new CPD ePortfolio in 2017.
First national event for educators
Our Faculty Development Framework gives our membership formal recognition as educators. We held our first Faculty of Medical Educators Summit in November 2016, which was attended by 136 trainers and was an important milestone in the development of the Framework. The aim is to increase the skills of O&G teachers and trainers, resulting in better doctors and improved and safer patient care, as well as to provide updates on important College initiatives in education and training. We are now piloting the Framework internationally.
Improving the quality of training in the workplace
We revised the Training Evaluation Form so that it is now completed on the training ePortfolio. The form allows trainees to give direct feedback on the quality of their O&G training. The information is sent to heads of schools, deans and trainee chairs for them to use in their local quality improvement activities. It also means the College can monitor training at a national level, recognise excellent training and identify any trends or issues.
Tackling workplace bullying
We undertook the first investigation into incidents of bullying and undermining among O&G consultants in the UK. The study, published in BMJ Open, involved 664 consultants and showed that 44% of those who responded had been persistently bullied or undermined. This represents 14% of the consultant workforce. We have already carried out a great deal of work to tackle this issue, including developing a bullying and undermining toolkit with the Royal College of Midwives, creating an eLearning resource and establishing Workplace Behaviour Champions, but this study demonstrates there is more work to be done.
219 candidates passed our new Part 3 MRCOG exam
259 eLearning tutorials are now available, with 18 new ones launched in 2016
82% of Fellows and Members agree we provide first-class education
As the next generation of medical leaders in obstetrics and gynaecology, it is imperative that trainees are encouraged and supported to continue training. Failure to support them is likely to impact on the quality and safety of care they are able to provide to women and their babies.
Professor Janice Rymer, Vice President for Education, RCOG
RCOG Lay Assessor
“Communication skills don’t come naturally to everyone”
Sarah-Jane Pluckrose, who has a long-held interest in education and training, was delighted to become one of the first lay assessors for the Part 3 exam.
“Of course, clinical training is the most important aspect, but it is essential for doctors to be able to put patients at ease and explain to them what it happening. Gynaecological problems can be embarrassing for women so it’s vital they feel comfortable with either a male or a female doctor as one bad experience can put people off going back.
“I think this new exam is brilliant, not just because it will improve healthcare experiences for women, but because it will also give doctors the support and training they need. When it comes to communication, there’s a big assumption that people can just do it, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone and this became very obvious in the training I did and the mock exams I took part in. Also, with the health service under such tremendous pressure, if a doctor can put a woman at ease they are more likely to get the information they need quickly and easily.”
“All the lay assessors attended a really useful two-day training course. The first day was classroom based and the second day we were involved in mock exams, where we had to say whether the trainees had passed, failed or were borderline. The doctors did their mock exams in June before the real thing in November and the only difference was that during the mocks we were able to give direct feedback to the doctor. This was really daunting at first as it was hard to tell someone they weren’t of the calibre you would expect.”
“We were told the type of things we should be looking out for, but my main criterion was whether I would feel comfortable if that was my doctor and I was in that particular situation. In one case, the doctor kept referring to the baby as ‘it’ and when I pointed this out to him he just hadn’t realised he was doing it. But this can feel very impersonal for a woman.
“The most rewarding thing was seeing the difference in some of the doctors between the mock exams and the real thing. The improvement in their communication skills was immense so I really felt I had made a valuable contribution and helped to make a difference. At the end of the day, it’s all about women getting better care. Lay assessors can really bring a different perspective and I’d like to see more Colleges following the RCOG’s lead.”