Assessment guide is useful for all

Mock scenarios and helpful exercises make this book more than an exam guide, says Dr Lizzie Croton.

Entry to a GP vocational training scheme is highly competitive, with prospective candidates undertaking a four-stage application process.

The GP specialist training application process has been the subject of much speculation and uncertainty. It tests virtually all the criteria set out in the National Person Specification for prospective GP trainees.

PasTest, with their long established history in medical revision books, have produced a range of titles geared at junior doctors applying for vocational training schemes. This book deals entirely with stage 3 of the assessment process. Candidates reaching this milestone will already have passed the clinical problem solving examination paper for stage 2.

Completing stage 3
For stage 3, candidates are invited to a selection centre and most deaneries select via the results of a mock consultation, group discussion and prioritisation exercise.

The book aims to get the candidate in the right frame of mind by providing a reflective exercise as to what makes a good GP. This is useful for junior doctors, perhaps with little GP experience, to get a handle on the language used and the way GPs think about things. The three parts of the assessment are covered in detail with extensive background notes and mock questions with helpful pointers.

The mock consultation section of the book is designed to help doctors consult in a patient-centred fashion, moving away from the medical school history and examination. There are notes on consultation models and addressing the patient's ideas, concerns and expectations. The scenarios are all plausible and set in both primary and secondary care.

Group discussion
The group discussion for me would be the most nerve-racking part; candidates are observed discussing a particular topic with other candidates. Topics range from dealing with a problem colleague to allocation of funding. Again, the book provides scenarios and what the examiners are looking for.

The prioritisation exercise requires candidates to sort a list of hypothetical on-call jobs or patients with various conditions into a priority order.

Scenarios may be set in primary or secondary care. This process is tricky and quite subjective but the book simplifies the process explaining in detail the points the assessors are looking for with reasons.

The book ends with all the acronyms and buzz words hot in general practice. Here Choose and Book, appraisal and the National Clinical Assessment Service are introduced, plus a useful glossary. This book doesn't just teach how to get through the exam; it also provides grounding in basic general practice for new registrars and would even help qualified GPs wanting to improve their consulting skills.

Dr Croton is a salaried GP in Birmingham

Book Giveaway

  • GP and PasTest are giving away five copies of GP ST: Stage 3 Assessment Handbook by Dr Raj Thakkar, worth £27.99 each.
  • If you are unlucky in the free book draw then you can order a copy directly from the PasTest website at the price of £27.99 www.pastest.co.uk.

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