Gaining the essential knowledge

In our final extract from The Condensed Curriculum Guide, Dr Ben Riley and Dr Jayne Haynes explain the curriculum statements.

The curriculum statements spell out how a GP's generic skills and expertise, referred to as the six core competences of general practice, are applied to a particular aspect of general practice. This makes a great resource for learning or teaching a particular area of general practice, but also means that, taken altogether, the statements contain a fair amount of repetition.

As a result, it is difficult for a doctor to get an overview of what needs to be learned.

The condensed statements
To make the curriculum more accessible to learners, we have stripped each statement to its bare essentials, by packaging its key educational content into four easy-to-understand sections (see box). These 'condensed' statements are found in 'the essential knowledge' chapter of The Condensed Curriculum Guide.

Each RCGP curriculum statement has its own knowledge base that doctors must acquire as a foundation to general practice. In the condensed knowledge, we condense this into a list of: symptoms, common and important conditions, investigations, treatment, emergency cases and preventive measures.

Tips for learning and teaching
Within each condensed statement, we have included useful tips and resources to help support learning and teaching of the topic. These tips are derived from the published literature, our own experience during training, and the advice of established trainers, course organisers and GP educationalists.

The Condensed Curriculum Guide suggests you use condensed statements as a 'self-assessment confidence rating scale', by giving each piece of knowledge, skill or know-how a score from one to five. This can assist you in setting priorities for planning your learning.

It is advisable to ask your trainer or an educational supervisor who has observed your performance to review your scores and check that your assessment is a true reflection of your abilities.

If there is more than one point of disagreement between you and your trainer, it will be helpful to reflect on why this might be the case.

The rest of general practice
Although the curriculum is comprehensive, it is inevitable that a practising GP will encounter areas of medicine that are not explicitly mentioned.

This does not mean that such topics should not be learned or taught; learning to be a successful GP also requires mastering the skills of self-direction and needs-based learning, and this involves learning whatever is required to perform competently in the role of a GP.

In The Condensed Curriculum Guide, we have included a list of topics that may be assessed in the nMRCGP - such as renal medicine and haematology - that do not have a dedicated RCGP curriculum statement. GP learners and educators should consider incorporating these topics into their learning and teaching plans.

The curriculum map
The RCGP has created a new website called the 'curriculum map' ( The whole curriculum can be browsed online and each statement is linked to useful educational resources for GP training.

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

Learning points

How to utilise the curriculum statements

  1. The curriculum statements contain a fair amount of repetition. It is important to break them down into the essentials.
  2. Use the condensed curriculum statements as a resource for learning or teaching a particular area of general practice.
  3. Prioritise your learning by scoring each piece of knowledge, skill or know-how from 1-5.
  4. Note other topics that may be assessed in the nMRCGP but are not highlighted in their own curriculum statement.


We have five copies of The Condensed Curriculum Guide for our readers to win.

Copies will go to the first five readers to email with a list of the six core competences of general practice described in the RCGP curriculum. You can find the competences on

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 is available from the RCGP Bookshop. Online:; phone: (020) 7581 3232; fax: (020) 7581 8154.

RCGP members and associates receive a 10 per cent discount when ordering this book.

Sections in each condensed statement

The condensed knowledge - The core items of knowledge contained in the statement's knowledge base (not all statements have this section).

The condensed skills - The key skills described in the statement and our interpretation of how they apply to the topic or group of patients concerned.

The condensed know-how - The key applied knowledge extracted from the learning outcomes for the statement.

The condensed resources - A selection of useful educational resources for learning and teaching the statement.

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