Aim Membership for the Royal College of Paediatric & Child Health (MRCPCH) is an essential qualification that all paediatric trainees in the United Kingdom must obtain to progress with their specialty training. The MRCPCH Clinical Examination is the final examination required for this qualification. In August 2009, a structured clinical teaching deanery program was initiated to support paediatric trainees sitting this examination. The aim was to provide teaching in the clinical examination curriculum and also the examination structure, standards and marking regime of the exam.
Methods There are three sittings of this examination each year in numerous centres in the UK. A teaching program was organised by paediatric trainees and included (1) teaching on the structure and marking criteria of the exam; (2) general physical examination and history teaching; and (3) sub-specialty paediatric teaching. This was consolidated with written material and practice examples for the trainees. The program commences three months prior to each examination sitting in the tertiary paediatric centre in our deanery. After the examination, a standardised questionnaire, comprising 40 items with a five-point response on a 5-point Likert scale, with invitations for open comments, was sent to each trainee, and returned anonymously.
Results This program has been run since August 2009 (13 examination diets). Review of the feedback has enabled modification of the program to improve the curriculum for future trainee groups. In particular, it has highlighted ongoing trainee issues such as difficulties attending teaching due to service commitments and difficulties engaging busy sub-specialty clinicians for teaching.
Conclusion This teaching program has been consolidated over a number of years and provides essential support for paediatric trainees in their preparation for the MRCPCH clinical examination. The ultimate aim is to incorporate this into an inter-deanery or college program, ensuring that it is robust, sustainable and does not just rely on a small nucleus of individuals to organise it.