GMC sets out first step towards training all doctors as generalists

Plans for standardised postgraduate medical training that could knock down barriers between specialties by training all doctors in a more flexible, generalist way have been published by the GMC.

Postgraduate medical curricula should focus more on the ‘generic’ aspects of training common to all doctors, the GMC said in its Excellence by design report published on Monday.

Under the changes, medical colleges including the RCGP have been told to identify aspects of training that are similar to other specialties, with the aim of standardising this across specialties.

The GMC said colleges must ensure all 103 existing postgraduate medical curricula are updated to meet the requirements outlined in the document by 2020.

Its new generic professional capabilities framework was ‘integral’ to the new requirements, which will help each discipline move as far as possible towards a common curriculum.

Specialty training

There is ‘a clear need’ to develop a more consistent approach ‘that embeds common generic outcomes and content across all postgraduate medical curricula’, according to the report.

The changes should make postgraduate training more flexible by enabling trainees who change their mind to more easily swap between specialties and maintain some of their progress.

The move also marks the first step on the GMC’s previously revealed longer term aim of training all doctors to be generalists.

GMC chairman Professor Terence Stephenson warned in December that it ‘would be rash’ to train people today for fixed roles in 2030 when there was a clear need for more generalists in the future, given the rise of an older population with more comorbidities.

GMC report

Launching the report, GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: ‘The standards we are publishing today will support greater flexibility in postgraduate training. They will give doctors more freedom and choice as their interests in medicine develop, while at the same time meeting the changing patterns in the health needs of patients, ensuring they receive high quality care.

‘We want to deliver a reformed and reinvigorated system of postgraduate training. We recognise that to do that in full we need the UK government to make the law less restrictive, so that we can be more agile in approving training.

‘We will ask them to address that, and in the meantime we will continue to work with medical colleges and faculties, the four governments across the UK, and other bodies involved in medical education, to deliver a system that will benefit patients as well as doctors.’

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