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Perspective on the papers by Howells et al and Archer et al (see pages 323 and 330)
The papers by Howells et al1 and Archer et al,2 are timely, and raise a range of important issues for paediatricians, educators and regulators to do with assessments where there is likely to be – or indeed where there is necessarily – a degree of subjectivity. They are the latest in a canon of work from Helena Davies' world class group on workplace-based assessment. The kind of issues they tackle are part of the contemporary desire to come to terms with the teaching and testing of such areas, both within communication skills, as the term is normally used, and within the broader area, which communication impinges on, of professionalism.3,–,5
In the UK, the issue has assumed additional importance with the publication of the government white paper on professional regulation6 and the Chief Medical Officer's subsequent report setting the approach to medical revalidation.7 Revalidation will involve two separate processes based on a range of assessments and other evidence of actual practice. Annual relicensure will confirm performance within the General Medical Council's generic standards. Recertification confirms that paediatricians practise within standards appropriate for our speciality. However, the Chief Medical Officer emphasises that revalidation should be supportive to all doctors, aimed at raising …
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