My role as an RCGP MAP assessor

Dr Una Duffy explains what is involved in being an assessor for the Membership by Assessment of Performance (MAP) route to MRCGP.

Membership by Assessment of Performance (MAP) was launched in 2000 and is the only route to MRCGP for established GPs who have not taken the MRCGP exam.

How I became a MAP assessor

Unlike many MAP assessors, I was not a trainer, CSA examiner or appraiser by background, but an ordinary full-time GP who had recently achieved MRCGP myself. I had a baby during my GP trainee year and was one of the cohort who did not undertake the MRCGP as it was optional at that time.

I was one of the early batch of iMAP candidates and I think this gave me something of a unique perspective.

I thought that with my own experiences with MAP I could empathise with and encourage the candidates I assessed. Plus, now and then, I could remind my fellow assessors what it feels like to be on the other side.

It has certainly been a learning curve and also tremendously rewarding. I think it was especially so in the iMAP days when we regularly met face to face to work as Assessor teams and to meet the candidates for Oral Assessment. It was uplifting to see so many diverse GP candidates who had taken on MAP and clearly developed professionally as a result.

What I enjoy about being an assessor

What I like best about MAP as a former candidate and as an assessor is that it is so relevant and practical. In many ways, MAP is simply about documenting the aspects of good practice that you are currently already doing and perhaps thinking about them in a deeper way than you would in a normal busy day.

I usually describe it as being challenging but not difficult.

MAP fits with how GPs work and how GPs think. It gives a structure to the diverse aspects of general practice. MAP takes this a little further and provides recognition for the achievement. Something to be proud of for a CV, the practice brass plate or even a certificate for the wall. One candidate even leather bound his portfolio. And why not? It was his achievement and represented all the work he had put in to it.

What being an assessor involves

My work as a MAP assessor is now done more remotely with interaction with other assessors being mainly via email or conference call. We have a two-day annual conference and some of us also get involved with study days and promoting MAP.

It takes time to properly read and understand a portfolio and to assess it using the set criteria and standards. I always have a mental picture of the person behind the words, the GP who is doing this at the end of a busy day or at a weekend. Who is recognising where his or her practice may not been ideal and taking time to note this and make changes. This might apply to a referral letter, the management of an emergency or an aspect of long term care of a challenging case. Or it may be thinking about what went right, what was good and why. That is the essence of MAP.

It is not about perfection. It is not about passing an exam. It is about being proud of what you do and gaining motivation to continue in these difficult times by having your good practice and care recognised and celebrated.

There is a tremendous satisfaction in assessing a candidate's work when it is coming back to you for the second time and you can see clear evidence of learning and understanding. MAP is all about insight and self awareness. I have seen it work as a very effective confidence booster for previously jaded or unsure GPs.

How MAP has developed

It has also been interesting to have been involved with the evolution of MAP. It has become less exam-like and I think, user friendly. The oral assessments were fun for us but fairly terrifying for the candidates as I know from my own experience. They are no longer an integral part of MAP and I am sure that is a great relief for candidates.

My advice to the ‘MRCGP-negative’ cohort is to have a look at MAP. It can be done in bite-sized chunks in parallel to what you have to do already for revalidation. So why not do MAP and have something to show for it more than just the tick in your appraiser's box?

We do not know what the future holds for us as GPs and whether we may one day have to prepare a CV for a career change. MAP leading to MRCGP is worth considering for your career, your future or even just for yourself.

  • Dr Duffy is a GP in Luton, Bedfordshire

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