Exclusive: Introducing the GP curriculum

In the first of our exclusive series based on extracts from The Condensed Curriculum Guide, Dr Ben Riley and Dr Jayne Haynes introduce the GP curriculum.

The curriculum, for the first time, presents the official view of the fundamental knowledge, skills, attitudes and expertise that a doctor in training needs to master to become a competent GP.

It takes the principles from the GMC's Good Medical Practice and applies them to everyday general practice.

Why do we need a curriculum?
Previously a new GP trainee would spend weeks searching fruitlessly for an official opinion on 'what a GP needs to know'. GPs in training can now focus their initial efforts on developing the core attitudes, skills and areas of expertise identified by the curriculum.

The curriculum contains a syllabus of key knowledge that is designed to form a reliable benchmark against which the performance of new GPs can be assessed at the end of their training and for certification.

How the curriculum is organised
The curriculum is made up of 32 curriculum statements. Some of these describe the professional and managerial aspects of general practice, some explore the role of the GP in the care of special groups of people and others cover clinical topics.

The first statement, 'Being a General Practitioner' is the foundation of the entire curriculum. It is referred to as the 'core statement' because it outlines the basics of what being a GP is all about.

The curriculum domains
The learning outcomes section of the curriculum statements is divided into 10 sections, referred to as the 'curriculum domains'. Each domain describes an aspect of general practice. The 10 domains include the six core competences of general practice, the three essential application features and one domain for psychomotor skills (see box). The curriculum domains form a useful framework for learning the fundamentals of general practice.

The knowledge base
In addition to the 10 curriculum domains, many of the curriculum statements contain a syllabus of core knowledge, referred to as the 'knowledge base'.

This is a list of important symptoms, conditions, emergencies, preventions and treatments relevant to the topic.

Using the curriculum
At first glance, the biggest difficulty with getting to grips with the curriculum is its overwhelming size. The 32 statements contain over 500 A4 pages and more than 1,300 learning outcomes - a print-out fills two lever-arch files. This size is a reflection of the broad range of knowledge and skills required in general practice.

The RCGP curriculum website, www.rcgp-curriculum.org.uk, has a browsable version of the curriculum, linked to relevant educational resources such as websites, articles and learning modules.

To enable trainees and their trainers to understand the curriculum more easily, the RCGP commissioned The Condensed Curriculum Guide. The next article in this series, Learning the Curriculum, will highlight some ways to use the curriculum to prioritise learning needs and plan effective learning activities.

Dr Riley is a GP in Oxfordshire and RCGP curriculum development fellow and Dr Haynes is also a GP in Oxfordshire

Find all the resources you need to meet the learning requirements of the RCGP curriculum on our GP Curriculum Centre

Learning points

What makes up the new curriculum

  1. The curriculum presents the official view of the fundamental knowledge, skills, attitudes and expertise that make a competent GP.
  2. It contains a syllabus of key knowledge that underpins the nMRCGP assessments.
  3. The curriculum is made up of 32 curriculum statements.
  4. The learning outcomes section of each statement is made up of 10 curriculum domains.
  5. Many of the curriculum statements also contain a syllabus of knowledge.

The Condensed Curriculum Guide, RCGP 2007

by Dr Ben Riley, Dr Jayne Haynes and Professor Steve Field

The Condensed Curriculum Guide is the official guidebook to the RCGP curriculum.

It condenses the key content of the 32 statements into one volume and brings together tips and advice on using the curriculum to learn and teach each of the curriculum domains, and to prepare for the nMRCGP.

It is available from the RCGP Bookshop. Online: www.rcgp.org.uk/acatalog. Phone: (020) 7581 3232; fax: (020) 7581 8154. RCGP members and associates receive a 10 per cent discount when ordering this book.

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