Aims START is a new compulsory assessment for final year trainees introduced by the RCPCH in 2012. The purpose of START is to provide targeted developmental feedback: a process which is critically dependent on engagement and understanding from trainees
We assessed trainee understanding of the purpose and requirements of START and their beliefs regarding how the results would be used.
Methods We asked trainees who had been chosen to represent their Trusts at a Deanery level to complete a survey in August 2012. 17 trainees completed the survey from 14 different trusts. Trainees were from all training levels (1–3).
Results There was mixed understanding of the purpose of START. Beliefs include; to identify training needs, that it is a CCT requirement and to ensure competency for the consultant role.
Less than half of trainees were clear who is required to take START. Nearly all understood that the assessment is formative rather than summative
There was wide variation in trainees’ beliefs about the cost of the assessment. All except two trainees believed it to be cheaper than the actual cost and three trainees thought that it was free to take the assessment.
The majority of trainees understood that they will receive written feedback. A significant proportion believed that they would be issued a pass/fail grade and that they could be required to retake the examination.
Nearly half of trainees believed that their START score would be recorded on their CCT paperwork.
Conclusions We have demonstrated mixed understanding of the purpose of START. Trainees are overall poorly informed about the process of START and showed mixed understanding of how the results will be used.
To maximise trainee benefit from START and to ensure ongoing success of the assessment we need to urgently address these gaps in knowledge and understanding.