RCGP curriculum - Introducing the GP curriculum

Dr Ben Riley and Dr Jayne Haynes explain what the curriculum is and why it is necessary.

The RCGP 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 have 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 and skills 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 it is organised
The curriculum is made up of a core statement and 31 interpretive 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 core 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 sections, referred to as the 'curriculum domains'.

Each domain describes an aspect of general practice. The domains include the six core competences of general practice, the three essential application features, and the psychomotor skills.

The curriculum domains form a useful framework for learning the fundamentals of general practice.

The knowledge base
In addition to the curriculum domains, many of the interpretive 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 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 has a browsable version of the curriculum, linked to relevant educational resources such as websites, articles and learning modules.

The book, The Condensed Curriculum Guide was commissioned by the RCGP to enable trainees and their trainers to understand the curriculum.

  • Find all the resources you need to meet the learning requirements of the RCGP curriculum on our GP Curriculum Centre
  • Dr Riley is a GP in Oxfordshire and RCGP curriculum development fellow and Dr Haynes is also a GP in Oxfordshire

Learning points
What makes up the GP 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 and skills that underpins the nMRCGP assessments.

3. The curriculum is made up of a core statement and 31 interpretive statements.

4. The learning outcomes section of each statement is made up of curriculum domains, which define areas of competence.

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. Phone: (020) 7344 3198; fax: (020) 7581 8154. RCGP members and associates receive a 10 per cent discount when ordering this book.
The Curriculum Domains
The six core competencesThe three essential application featuresPsychomotor skill

A core competence is a broad area of expertise that is fundamentally important to general practice.

  • Primary care management.
  • Person-centred care.
  • Specific problem-solving skills.
  • A comprehensive approach.
  • Community orientation.
  • A holistic approach

These describe the background aspects of general practice that determine how a GP applies their skills.

Contextual: The context of the person, the family, the community and their culture.

Attitudinal: Basing actions on professional capabilities, values and ethics.

Scientific: Adopting a critical and research-based approach to practice.

Psychomotor skills are the everyday practical and clinical skills that GPs perform. Examples include clinical examination skills, basic life support, taking a cervical smear, using an ophthalmoscope and undertaking a suicide risk assessment.



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