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Delivery of the paediatric curriculum of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH)
  1. Mary E McGraw
  1. Dr Mary E McGraw, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Department of Paediatric Nephrology, King David Building, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Upper Maudlin Street, Bristol BS2 8BJ, UK; Mary.McGraw{at}

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Medical education and the service in which it is embedded are undergoing radical changes. A new postgraduate paediatric curriculum has been introduced in the United Kingdom, the content of which has been derived by the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health (RCPCH) from Delphi consensus and documents such as Good medical practice.1 It is competency based and will enable trainees to progress according to their acquisition of these competences. Therefore, unlike the earlier time based curricula, the time to complete the curriculum may vary. As progress depends on competence, there is a greater emphasis on continuous assessment of performance. All these aspects bring with them challenges for those responsible for curriculum delivery.


Recruitment is the first stage in the delivery of the curriculum and postgraduate selection practices have been widely criticised. Current research is exploring measures that may be more valid and reliable than the traditional methods. Recruitment based on competences has been found to be superior to the traditional structured interview2 and correlates well with performance.3 Although there are practical limitations to delivering this on a national scale, in 2008 the use of national standardised structured short-listing and interview was felt to be an improvement on the previous geographically variable processes. However, more work is needed in identifying appropriate selection methods.


Although outcome based education places greater emphasis on the product rather than the process, it is important to examine the organisation and delivery of the curriculum, both key elements of curriculum design, which is the responsibility of the postgraduate deaneries. The RCPCH has produced a guidance document for deaneries on the structure and balance of posts within a programme that may best be able to deliver the necessary learning opportunities.4 However, inevitably, due to the differing service opportunities within deaneries, programmes will …

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  • Competing interests: None.