Professional development - RCGP membership by performance

RCGP examiners Dr Marilyn Graham and Dr Ken Menon explain the benefits of iMAP.

As RCGP examiners, we were invited to attend a new component of interim membership by assessment of performance (iMAP), which consisted of three mini conversations.

It was a fascinating experience, meeting practising GPs who were all deserving of membership of the RCGP. At the end of the oral assessments the examiners discussed the performance of the GPs we had talked to. We are glad to report that those we saw were awarded membership.

History of iMAP
iMAP is the successor to the original membership by assessment of performance (MAP). The RCGP has recently extended the closing date of iMAP to 31 December 2009. All portfolio work, which can take six months to complete, must be submitted by this time.

MAP was introduced several years ago as a means whereby established GPs could achieve membership of the RCGP without taking the formal examinations.

It followed on the success of the then well-established fellowship by assessment, which had been in progress for many years.

It has long been recognised by the RCGP that there is a large and significant cohort of established and often senior GPs in the UK who are not members of the college.

It is also acknowledged that this group of GPs comprises many doctors who provide general medical services to the highest standards while also being involved in teaching and training and various innovations in their practices and localities.

MAP, as originally conceived, consisted of three parts - the necessary pre-conditions to undertake MAP, a portfolio of evidence and a practice visit by two assessors.

The portfolio of evidence demonstrates how the GP meets a series of criteria, which include clinical care, practice organisation, the primary healthcare team and relationships with patients and colleagues.

iMAP uses a truncated version of the portfolio of evidence required for MAP comprising 19 criteria.

The criterion on clinical care, for example, deals with the management of acute illness and chronic disease, prescribing, audit, significant event analysis and emergency care, among other things.

The portfolio is reviewed by two assessors who decide if it is acceptable or if corrections need to be made.

When the portfolio is found to be acceptable the candidate is invited to an oral assessment, which takes place at the RCGP's examination centre in Croydon, south London.

The oral assessment replaces the practice visit of the original MAP. There are three oral assessments conducted by three pairs of assessors. The first deals with criteria from the portfolio submitted by the candidate.

The other two oral assessments also deal with various criteria but are not directly related to the portfolio. The candidate may, however, refer to the portfolio during the discussions. The whole oral assessment lasts 90 minutes.

Demonstrate your skills
iMAP is grounded in performance and suits the experienced GP without the need to prepare for an examination. It seeks to test performance and should therefore be within the ability of the average GP.

iMAP will cease to exist after 2009. The next 12 months is, therefore, a wonderful window of opportunity for all those who are not members and who wish to become members of the RCGP by demonstrating the calibre of their work.

If you look at the everyday work of a GP and compare it with the criteria of iMAP, you would see that most of the requirements of iMAP are already fulfilled.

A regular comment is that, in trying to satisfy the criteria, it is time-consuming to write up all the work. An alternative way to look at this is that you will have written procedures for your practice - a welcome advantage from undertaking iMAP.

Following success at iMAP, you and your practice would have received the approval of your peers. It is also a means of continuing medical education and therefore acceptable for your personal development plan. It could also be good for revalidation, when this comes.

  • Dr Graham is a GP in London and Dr Menon is a GP in Essex

 Learning points

1. iMAP is a way for experienced GPs to become a member of the RCGP.

2. iMAP has replaced membership by assessment of performance, but will be phased out in 2009.

3. The candidate must submit a portfolio of evidence covering the 19 criteria of iMAP.

4. Candidates are invited to take part in three oral assessments at the RCGP's examination centre in Croydon, south London.

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